FORT WORTH (9/21/02) TCU broke open a defensive slugfest with North Texas and battled to a hard fought 16-10 win over the Mean Green on Saturday night before 33,281 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
The game was tied at 3-3 at halftime with both teams’ defenses yielding little in the air or on the ground before the Horned Frogs (3-1) came up with a touchdown pass and two field goals in the second half to hold off North Texas, now 1-3.
North Texas’ defense had another outstanding effort, limiting the Frogs to 178 yards of total offense. The Mean Green allowed 102 of those yards on the ground and held the Frogs to just 76 yards in the air.
But the North Texas offense with the exception of a touchdown drive in the final minute of the game also had its own problems moving the ball against TCU most of the night. The Frogs’ defense held the Mean Green to 34 yards rushing and 70 of North Texas’ 219 yards of offense came on NT’s last-minute TD drive.
"I thought our defense played really well tonight," said North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey. "It gave us some opportunities. But offensively, we didn't protect (QB) Andrew Smith very well and we weren't able to convert the chances we had."
The Mean Green’s only touchdown came through the air and from the arm of third-team quarterback Hiram Gonzalez, who took over for starter Andrew Smith on North Texas’ final possession of the game. Gonzalez, a sophomore reserve seeing his first collegiate action, marched the Mean Green 70 yards on three plays and hooked up with junior wide receiver Kevin Howard for a 32-yard scoring play with 0:42 in the game.
Smith, who completed 10 of 30 passes for 120 yards, started his third consecutive game for the Mean Green. George Marshall led North Texas’ passing attack with four catches for 78 yards while Howard and Ja’Mel Branch each had three catches.
TCU snapped the 3-3 halftime tie late in the third quarter. Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Tye Gunn coming on after starter Sean Stilley got injured early in the second half hit tight end Cody McCarty on a four-yard touchdown pass with 4:01 left in the period to put TCU up 10-3.
Then in the fourth quarter TCU padded its lead with a pair of Nick Browne field goals from 29 and 22 yards.
It was after Browne’s third and final FG of the game, coming with 1:28 left in the game, that Gonzalez came on to lead North Texas to its only touchdown. The score came on a nice pass to Howard in the middle of the end zone.
A pair of TCU turnovers in the last six minutes of the opening half gave the Mean Green two chances at putting points on the board. But only on the second opportunity, made possible by Chris Hurd’s first career interception at the TCU 27 with 2:32 remaining, was North Texas able to convert the chance into points.
After Hurd hauled in TCU quarterback Sean Stilley’s pass and got it back to the 25-yard line, the Mean Green had to struggle to get into field position for Nick Bazaldua’s 28-yard field that tied the score, 3-3, at halftime.
In fact, it took an 11-yard personal foul penalty on the Frogs after sacking Smith to keep North Texas’ hopes alive. The half-the-distance-to-the-goal penalty moved the ball down to the 11-yard line and after an incomplete pass into the end zone, North Texas settled for the field goal with six seconds remaining before halftime.
The Mean Green also had an opportunity to have some offensive success with 5:22 left in the second period after Stilley fumbled away the ball on an option run and NT linebacker Taylor Casey recovered at the Horned Frogs’ 26-yard line.
North Texas’ offensive possession, however, was stalled with a pair of penalties and the Mean Green eventually was forced to punt after being pushed back to the TCU 45.
The Horned Frogs’ only first-half points came following a North Texas turnover in the first period when Smith fumbled at the Mean Green 16-yard line and TCU’s Brandon Johnson fell on it. Six plays later, Nick Browne kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Frogs an early 3-0 lead.