RENO - It was a record breaking day for Texas Christian University as running back Ladainian Tomlinson rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns in only three quarters on Saturday as the 22nd ranked Horned Frogs beat the University of Nevada 41-10 in front of 19,797 fans at Mackay Stadium.
Tomlinson's 43-yard touchdown with 1:43 left in the third quarter made the Heisman hopeful TCU's career touchdown leader. Tomlinson, who's rushed for 3,281 yards in his career, also moved up to second on TCU's all-time rushing list after his nine-yard run at the end of the first quarter. He now needs 468 yards to pass Tony Jeffery to become TCU's all-time leading rusher.
"He's everything as advertised," said Nevada coach Chris Tormey. " If he has a crease, he's gone."
TCU, who was the highest ranked team to ever play in Mackay Stadium, scored their first touchdown less than three minutes into the game after Tomlinson scored on a 1-yard run. TCU then scored it's second touchdown two minutes later after a Nevada punt was returned 85 yards by LaVar Veale. The return was the fourth longest in TCU history. But as the game unfolded, Veale was just one of several Horned Frogs players who broke into the record books.
After an Adrien Dugas 1-yard TD run that brought the Wolf Pack to within 14-7, TCU came right back when full back George Layne charged a career best 28 yards for TCU's third touchdown. Then Tomlinson's 5-yard run at the end of the second quarter gave TCU a 21-point cushion going into half-time.
The TCU defense, which tied a school record 37 sacks in 1999, nearly halved that against Nevada as they sacked quarterback David Neill 15 times.
"I never coached a team where we've been sacked 15 times," said Tormey, who mentioned that TCU has the 5th best defense in the nation. "David was exposed and thankfully he wasn't hurt."
"I don't think I've ever been this tired after a football game," said Neill, who finished 19-for-39 for 226 yards passing. "But for the amount of times I wasn't sacked was a positive. But I'm not blaming the O line."
Nevada, who started two freshmen and a sophomore on its offensive line, were held to minus-11 yards on the ground, but a bulk of that came from the 15 sacks.
"We gotta crawl before we can sprint," said Nevada offensive coordinator Phil Early, who mentioned that Neill was sacked only seven or eight times last week against Oregon.
In the second half, Nevada made it 28-10 after Mike Phillips' 29-yard field goal in the third quarter. But 15 seconds later, LaTarence Dunbar scored TCU's second special teams touchdown of the game when he ran back Phillips' kickoff 95 yards into the Nevada end zone. His return was the sixth longest kickoff return in TCU history.
"I would assume we were all out of our lines," said Wolf Pack special teams coach Mark Johnson. "We're still trying to teach them how to win and how to play football."
Even TCU's punter Joey Biasatti got into the record books after his 79-yard punt in the third quarter became the fourth longest in TCU history.
"That's a great football team," Tormey said. "I told the team afterwards to look across and see what a division one football team is suppose to look like. If we ever want to compete for a championship around here or be ranked in the top-25, than we need to recommit ourselves because this is not the Big West Conference."