Texas Christian wallops Rams

Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 12:49 a.m.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Texas Christian figured out how to stop Colorado State standout Cecil Sapp after just two runs in the Liberty Bowl.

Sapp reeled off big gains of 59 and 25 yards on the Rams' first two possessions, and the Horned Frogs - who rank first in the nation against the run - knew something had to change.

Sapp had 22 yards the rest of the game, and TCU tailback Ricky Madison stole the show with 111 yards rushing and a touchdown as the Horned Frogs beat No. 23 Colorado State 17-3 Tuesday.

"We were a little anxious, moving too fast," linebacker LaMarcus McDonald said. "We were trying to get there before the play developed. We had to slow down and catch the tempo."

It was the Horned Frogs' 500th victory in school history.

Madison ran for 107 of his yards in the rainy second half as TCU's offense came alive after a sloppy opening by both teams.

In the first half, the teams combined for three lost fumbles, two interceptions, a missed field goal and an unsuccessful faked field goal. Their sloppy play made for the lowest scoring first half of a Liberty Bowl since Penn State led Tulane 6-0 in 1979.

TCU (10-2) finally put together a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive led by Lonta Hobbs in the closing minutes of the second quarter. The freshman ran for 39 yards in the drive, capped when Sean Stilley threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to LaTarence Dunbar with 1:21 remaining to put TCU up 7-0 at the break.

Colorado State (10-4) countered quickly in the third quarter with a 46-yard field goal by Jeff Babcock at 11:22. The score - which tied Babcock's career long - came on a four-play drive for negative-6 yards.

"I thought it was a big key at the start of the second half when they had the punt return down there and we held them to a field goal," TCU coach Gary Patterson said.

The Rams had another opportunity for points on their next possession, when short back-to-back runs by Sapp brought them to the TCU 22. But two penalties and a play for negative yardage pushed them back to the 38, and they had to punt.

The Rams were held to 89 yards rushing - compared with 197 for TCU - for their lowest total of the season. TCU also outgained Colorado State 338-149.

"They are one hell of a defense, they are very athletic. I've got to respect them because of what they've done all year," Sapp said.

TCU added cushion in the fourth when Nick Browne scored on a 25-yard field goal with 6:57 remaining. Madison then scored just over three minutes after the field goal for the final margin.

Sapp's first run - the longest allowed by TCU from scrimmage this season - brought Colorado State to the TCU 11, but the Rams couldn't capitalize. Though they set up for a field goal, they instead attempted a fake with holder Joey Cuppari passing to an open Brandon Alconcel in the end zone. But Alconcel dropped the pass

"The first big run they had was my fault. I called a blitz, and as he has done all year, Cecil Sapp hit the seam and took off to the races," Patterson said. "We adjusted a couple of things to make sure" that didn't happen again.

Sapp finished with 106 yards - although 84 of them came on those first two runs. Despite that, the total gives him his ninth 100-yard game of the season, tying a school record set by Steve Bartalo in 1986.

The Liberty Bowl is sponsored by AXA.

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