7:00 PM ET, October 4, 2003
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Brandon Hassell had never thrown a pass in a game before replacing injured starting quarterback Tye Gunn. Now he has won three straight starts to keep TCU (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 Associated Press) undefeated.
Army sounded flat, but TCU QB Brandon Hassell had perfect pitch.
Hassell threw two touchdown passes, including a 40-yard strike to Bruce Galbert to start the second half, and the Horned Frogs beat Army 27-0 on Saturday night. Hassell had 151 of his 162 passing yards after halftime.
"The first game, I was a little nervous. But knowing Tye was going to be available helped out a lot," Hassell said. "We're getting to the meat of the conference schedule and we'll do what we need to do to win."
Coach Gary Patterson has two undefeated quarterbacks to chose from for the Frogs (5-0, 2-0 C-USA), who played the first of seven straight Conference USA games.
Patterson said he doesn't know who will start Friday night at South Florida (3-1, 2-0). The coach has indicated in the past that he doesn't want to rotate quarterbacks.
Gunn played for the first time since separating his right (throwing) shoulder in practice Sept. 9. The sophomore, 6-0 as the starter, was 6-for-10 for 103 yards in four first-half series, leading the Frogs to two field goals and a 6-0 halftime lead.
"It felt good to knock some of the rust off," Gunn said. "I feel like I could play next week. Brandon's a good quarterback. He can take a hit in the pocket and gives us a boost offensively."
Freshman Robert Merrill had his third straight 100-yard rushing game for the Frogs since replacing injured tailback Lonta Hobbs. Tyrone Sanders returned a questionable fumble 35 yards for a touchdown.
Army (0-5, 0-3) was limited to 204 yards and has been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since 1979. The Black Knights, who lost 28-0 to South Florida last week, haven't beaten a ranked team since 1972.
"We're very dysfunctional on offense," Army coach Todd Berry said. "We have to be more consistent. Most of our problems are caused by our young players not making plays. We are going to have to simplify our game plan."
Hassell was 13-for-21 passing in what might have been his last start. The fourth-year junior is 40-of-75 for 635 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception in his three games.
Gunn, as scheduled, came in on the third drive. His first two drives ended with field goals by Nick Browne, from 26 and 30 yards, and he played two more drives after that.
Hassell was back in to start the second half, and threw a 24-yard pass to Cory Rodgers, who made a one-handed grab and got control of the ball just before being leveled by Taylor Justice. On the next play, Hassell hit Galbert, who shed a defender to make the catch and tumble into the end zone.
Rodgers caught a 15-yard TD pass with 4:12 left, ending a nine-play, 85-yard drive that took more than four minutes off the clock.
Sanders' fumble return late in the third quarter gave TCU a 20-0 lead. Army tight end Doug Horaist ran after making a catch, and his backside appeared to be on the ground when the ball popped up into Sanders' hands.
The Black Knights gained 67 yards on just three plays in the first half. They had just 16 yards on their other 29 plays before halftime, plus had a 53-yard pass wiped out by a chop block penalty.
Dahman threw a 26-yard pass to Jacob Murphy to convert third-and-11 on the first play of the second quarter, then after a 15-yard personal foul penalty was tacked on, the two combined for 17 more to the TCU 21. But the Black Knights lost 10 yards on the next three plays, and Dahman's fourth-down pass was broken up in the end zone by Mark Walker.
Carlton Jones ran 24 yards on the first play after a fumble by Merrill. But Bo Schobel then had his third quarterback sack of the second quarter, and Walker intercepted Dahman's next pass.
Merrill was stripped by Ryan Kent at the end of a bruising 26-yard gain. The ball rolled 10 yards into the end zone and was covered by Mike Clark.
Merrill got a yard on his only fourth-quarter carry and finished with 100 yards on 15 carries. Hobbs, who injured his right ankle in the first quarter against Vanderbilt on Sept. 20, was in uniform for the second game without playing.
TCU won its 10th straight home game with its first shutout since a 37-0 win over Rice on Oct. 28, 2000.