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Archive for Monday, September 4, 2006

Baylor drops opener to TCU

September 4, 2006

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— With undefeated TCU starting quarterback Jeff Ballard woozy on the sideline and unable to play, coach Gary Patterson only had one real option.

Freshman Marcus Jackson filled in nicely and made sure the No. 22 Horned Frogs avoided being on the wrong side of a season-opening upset with a 17-7 victory at Baylor on Sunday.

"He was the only person we had left," Patterson said. "It was either going to be him or me."

Jeff Ballard wasn't feeling right after taking some hard hits in the first meeting between the old Southwest Conference rivals in 11 years. Jackson found out just before the second half that he was replacing the senior starter, then threw for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

"It was crazy. I had a couple of warmup throws, maybe three or four," Jackson said. "I mainly snapped with the center."

Jackson finally put the Horned Frogs ahead with an 84-yard TD pass to tailback Aaron Brown after Baylor's second turnover in the third quarter. He threw a four-yard score to Quinton Cunigan in the fourth quarter.

TCU, unranked when it beat No. 7 Oklahoma, 17-10, in last year's season opener, stretched its winning streak to 11 games - the second-longest in Division I-A behind the 21 in a row of defending national champion Texas.

TCU quarterback Marcus Jackson takes off for a short gain. Jackson ran in the fourth quarter of TCU's 17-7 victory against Baylor on Sunday in Waco, Texas. Jackson came off the bench after halftime and completed 11 of 13 passes for 148 yards. "It was crazy. I had a couple of warmup throws, maybe three or four," Jackson said.

TCU quarterback Marcus Jackson takes off for a short gain. Jackson ran in the fourth quarter of TCU's 17-7 victory against Baylor on Sunday in Waco, Texas. Jackson came off the bench after halftime and completed 11 of 13 passes for 148 yards. "It was crazy. I had a couple of warmup throws, maybe three or four," Jackson said.

Baylor, playing only its third opener at home since 1997, was hoping for a big upset in its first game since switching to a pass-oriented offense with returning senior quarterback Shawn Bell.

Instead, the Bears dropped to 2-31 against ranked teams since moving to the Big 12 in 1996 - the year after the SWC disbanded and they last played TCU.

"I'm getting tired of these kind of games," fourth-year Baylor coach Guy Morriss said. "A loss is still a loss. We had opportunities and didn't get it done."

Ballard improved to 9-0 as TCU's starter, but never returned after completing seven of 14 passes for 85 yards and an interception in the first half. Patterson said Ballard should be ready to play the home opener Saturday against UC-Davis.

With Ballard out and senior running backs Lonta Hobbs (foot) and Robert Merrill (back) not playing at all, Jackson (11-of-13 passing) and Brown (15 rushes for 49 yards and four catches for 107 yards) led the comeback offensively.

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