TCU Bounces Back to Beat Air Force

No. 25 TCU 35, Air Force 19

By ARNIE STAPLETON
|  Saturday, Sep 10, 2011  |  Updated 7:36 PM CDT
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TCU Bounces Back to Beat Air Force

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A fan of the TCU Horned Frogs.

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The 25th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs brushed off their Baylor blues and routed Air Force 35-19 Saturday for their 18th straight win in the Mountain West Conference.

The Horned Frogs (1-1) were efficient in bouncing back from their stunning 50-48 loss at Baylor last week that ended their BCS-best 25-game regular-season winning streak.

And they did it without their star running back and top tackler, as tailback Ed Wesley (shoulder) and linebacker Tanner Brock (foot) didn't make the trip after aggravating existing injuries in the Frogs' opener.

The Falcons (1-1) had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Wesley was replaced by Matthew Tucker, who scored on a 1-yard leap and a 3-yard run in the first half as TCU built a 21-0 lead.

Tucker finished with 95 yards on 16 carries, and Waymon James rushed 13 times for 55 yards and a TD.

Kenny Cain replaced Brock at strongside linebacker and was one of three defenders who made his first career start. He had seven tackles and was joined by newcomers Trent Thomas at safety and Kevin White at cornerback in the shuffled lineup.

Air Force had hoped to thump TCU on its way to winning the MWC crown this season but now will face an uphill climb in the conference, which loses the Horned Frogs to the Big East in 2012.

The Falcons were driving on their opening possession when running back Wes Cobb's illegal chop block thwarted their momentum. Defensive end Jon Koontz sliced through to stuff quarterback Tim Jefferson on fourth-and-3 at midfield.

That set up a 49-yard touchdown drive capped by Luke Shivers' 3-yard TD catch on a rollout by Casey Pachall. It was Shivers' 10th career score on just 21 touches.

Tucker's 1-yard leap made it 14-0 and his second TD run came after Antoine Hicks made a one-handed, 21-yard catch and defensive back Anthony Wooding was whistled for hitting him in the head, tacking on another 15 yards deep in Air Force territory.

Pachall finished 20 of 25 for 206 yards and two TDs.

He was almost perfect in the first half, when he completed his first 11 passes and 16 of 18 overall for 174 yards and a TD. But with the Frogs on the Falcons 30 in the final minute before halftime, he was sacked and stripped by linebacker Jamil Cooks, who recovered the fumble with 20 seconds left.

The Falcons quickly moved downfield but never went for the end zone, and Parker Herrington's 37-yard field goal made it 21-3 at halftime.

It appeared they had carried that momentum out of the tunnel when they forced the Frogs into a three-and-out that included two incompletions by Pachall to start the second half.

The fired-up crowd at Falcon Stadium was sensing a competitive second half when Travaras Battle punched the ball out of punt returner Mikel Hunter's hands and Greg Burks recovered it at midfield for TCU. That led to Pachall's 21-yard TD connection with freshman David Porter that made it 28-3.

That gave Porter two scores on the first three catches of his college career.

Looking for a spark, David Baska gained 34 yards on a fake punt, and one play later, wide receiver Jonathan Warzeka took the pitch from his quarterback, pulled up and hit Zack Kauth in stride for a 32-yard touchdown, the senior's second career TD toss.

The conversion failed, and the Horned Frogs put this one away with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by James' 4-yard TD run that made it 35-9.

With Connor Dietz having replaced Jefferson at quarterback, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun made the curious call to go for a field goal with the Falcons facing fourth-and-goal from the 4 with 8:18 left in the game and his team trailing by 24 points. Herrington split the uprights to make it 35-12.

Dietz led the Falcons on a cosmetic scoring drive in the final minute, taking it in from the 1 with 4 seconds left.

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