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C-USA: Freshman RB leads TCU to Liberty

©Associated Press

December 1, 2002

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Freshman Lonta Hobbs had no idea he was going to be the focus of TCU's offense going into Saturday's game against Memphis.

It didn't seem to bother him.

Hobbs ran for 287 yards and three touchdowns, the last one with 38 seconds left, as Texas Christian won 27-20 to earn a berth in the Liberty Bowl with a share of the Conference USA title.

"I didn't let Lonta know that we were going to lean on him," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "I stay away from putting that pressure on players, especially a freshman."

Hobbs' last touchdown was a 1-yard run that ended an 18-play, 80-yard drive for the Horned Frogs and consumed more than eight minutes.

"Maybe this will all sink in later," Hobbs said. "I'm just doing what I have to do to help us win."

Memphis went ahead 20-19 after Danny Wimprine's second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter, a 9-yarder to Tavares Gideon with 8:19 left.

The Frogs make their fifth straight bowl appearance when they play Mountain West Conference champion Colorado State on Dec. 31 in Memphis.

* * *

CINCINNATI 31, UAB 23: DeMarco McCleskey caught two touchdowns and ran for one for the host Bearcats, who kept bowl hopes alive and eliminated the Blazers from bowl contention.

Gino Guidugli was 14-for-22 for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for Cincinnati, which can become bowl eligible for the third straight year with a victory Friday at East Carolina.

Cincinnati tied it at 17 on Jonathan Ruffin's field goal with 3:18 left in the third quarter. Nick Hayes kicked two fourth-quarter field goals to put UAB up 23-17 with 11:21 left. Less than three minutes later McCleskey caught a screen from Guidugli and ran 15 yards for a score, then ran 14 yards for another touchdown with 3:30 to go.

HOUSTON 27, LOUISVILLE 10: Joffrey Reynolds ran for 149 yards, scored two touchdowns and broke the Conference USA single-season rushing record for the host Cougars.

But he was more happy to get a victory for outgoing coach Dana Dimel.

"We came out to win for Coach Dimel, and we accomplished our goal," Reynolds said.

Dimel was fired Sunday but stayed for the final game. He was 8-26 in three years at Houston, including 0-11 last season, the only winless campaign in the program's history.

"This is the greatest win of my career. It was a great way to go out," Dimel said. "I tried to keep my emotions intact all week. The players were great, getting away from them will be the hardest part."

Reynolds gained 1,545 rushing yards this season, breaking the mark of 1,432 set last season by East Carolina's Leonard Henry. He also set a single season UH record for rushing attempts with 316.

SOUTHERN MISS 24, ECU 7: Micky D'Angelo threw for 208 yards and a touchdown and the other Southern Miss quarterback, Dustin Almond, ran for a touchdown.

Derrick Nix ran for 139 yards and a touchdown for the Golden Eagles. His 4-yard touchdown run made it 24-0 with 10:48 left.

East Carolina's 1,000-yard rusher, Art Brown, sat out with groin and abdomen injuries. He was badly missed as the Pirates, who were eliminated from bowl contention, were held to a season-low 154 total yards.

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