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TCU victory highlighted by 98-yard play

9/28/2003

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Nick Browne was desperately hoping for a
chance to redeem himself.

He got his wish, and TCU (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) escaped with a 13-10
overtime victory over Arizona on Saturday night.

Browne kicked a 33-yard field goal after missing from 36 and 25
yards in regulation. His 24-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining in
regulation sent the game into overtime.

"We went from the lowest of lows to euphoria in that game,"
Browne said. "They (Arizona) really surprised us. They played a
great game. They kept us in check a lot."

The Horned Frogs' lone touchdown came on a 98-yard pass play
from Brandon Hassell to Reggie Harrell with 2:44 left in the first
half. It was the second-longest play in TCU history and the longest
ever allowed by Arizona.

The surprising Wildcats had the ball first in the overtime, but
Jeremy Modkins intercepted Kris Heavner's pass on the second play.
The Frogs (4-0) ran the ball three times to set up the winning
kick.

"We're not that good right now," TCU coach Gary Patterson
said. "We don't have our quarterback and we had to play our
third-string tailback."

That third-stringer isn't bad.

Freshman Robert Merrill gained 148 yards in 31 carries for the
Frogs and had an 80-yard touchdown run called back by a penalty for
an illegal block.

Heavner, a true freshman from Johnson City, Texas, completed 14
of 29 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate
start. He threw three interceptions, however. Ricky Williams had
five catches for 131 yards, all in the first half.

Browne kicked a 24-yard field goal with 1:07 to send the game
into overtime and spoil Arizona's bid for its first victory over a
ranked team in three years.

Heavner's 58-yard screen pass for a touchdown to tight end Steve
Fleming tied it at 7 with 9:40 left in the third quarter, then
Bobby Gill's 30-yard field goal put the Wildcats ahead 10-7 with
10:11 remaining.

TCU drove from its 26 to the Arizona 9 late in regulation, but a
holding penalty pushed the Frogs back, and they had to settle for
Browne's tying kick.

It was sweet redemption for the kicker, who was 5-for-5 coming
into the game and was Conference USA special teams player of the
week after going 3-for-3 with a 50-yarder last week against
Vanderbilt.

The Wildcats (1-4) had been outscored 166-30 in their last three
games, were coming off a 59-7 loss at Purdue. Rumors swirled about
coach John Mackovic's job status.

But Arizona's hard-hitting defense and Heavner's passing kept
the Wildcats in it throughout.

"We are proud of this," Mackovic said. "This is a real good
stepping stone. This is the first time that we sensed that we could
line up and play. Things didn't go our way tonight, but the guys
shouldn't hang their heads."

The Wildcats drove to the TCU 29 late in the first half, but
Heavner underthrew Williams over the middle and Marvin Godbolt
intercepted on the Frogs 2.

On the next play, Hassell retreated into the end zone,
pump-faked once, then threw to a wide-open Harrell, who outraced
all defenders to the end zone.

The 98-yard TD play was second only to TCU's 99-yard play from
Scott Ankrom to James Maness against Rice in 1984. The previous
longest play allowed by Arizona was a 91-yard pass from Stanford's
Steve Stenstrom to Brian Manning in 1993.

The Wildcats tied it at 7-7 with 9:40 left in the third quarter
when Heavner through an inside screen pass to Fleming, and the big
tight end rambled to the end zone on a 58-yard play.

Gill missed a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter.

The game began with Mackovic under a cloud of uncertainty after
about 20 players were barred from the team dinner Friday night for
failing to show up for meetings with the coach earlier in the day.
None of the players was suspended, however.

"We went out here tonight and showed them we can still
compete," said running back Clarence Farmer, who has had his share
of run-ins with Mackovic. "I try to go out and play with fire
every time. We were in the game, and competing."

TCU's regular starting quarterback, Tye Gunn, was in uniform on
the sidelines but did not play. He has been sidelined since
injuring his right shoulder in practice on Sept. 9. Tailbacks Ricky
Madison and Lanta Hobbs also are out with injuries.

Hassell had never thrown a pass in a game and the freshman
Merrill had no carries until last week against Vanderbilt.