10:00 PM ET, September 27, 2003
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Nick Browne was desperately hoping for a chance to redeem himself.
Arizona's Beau Carr is dragged down by TCU's Robert Pollard during Saturday's game.
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.