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TCU controls from get-go vs. Colorado State

12/31/2002

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Texas Christian figured out how to stop
Colorado State standout Cecil Sapp after just two runs in the
AXA 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 Colorado State (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) 17-3 on 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.