TCU wins fifth straight, hands Army 11th straight loss

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- On Friday, TCU coach Gary Patterson jumped from an airplane at 13,000 feet.

Even that was easier on his nerves than watching his Horned Frogs struggle past winless Army.

Jeff Ballard scored two touchdowns 1:04 apart in the fourth quarter as No. 25 TCU held off the pesky Black Knights for a 38-17 victory Saturday night.

The Horned Frogs (6-1) won their fifth consecutive game, while Army (0-6) has lost 11 in a row.

"I'd rather jump out of the airplane," said Patterson, who performed a tandem jump with a member of the Army's famed Golden Knights parachute team Friday morning. "I felt securer doing that."

The Frogs were far from secure when Army's Carlton Jones scored from 3 yards out to pull the Black Knights to within 24-17 with 8:10 left in the game. Army tried to seize the momentum with an onside kick, but the Black Knights touched the ball before it went 10 yards, giving TCU the ball at the Army 43-yard line.

But Ballard and Robert Merrill helped end the suspense with a screen pass that Merrill turned into a 29-yard gain to the Army 11. Ballard completed 22-of-29 passes for 219 yards and two scores, but it was his 3-yard touchdown run -- a bootleg that included a perfect stiff arm -- that finally put the game away with 5:54 left.

"That run Rob made was really huge for us," Ballard said. "Once we got down there, we knew we were going to score."

Ballard scored again on a 7-yard run 1:04 later after an interception by Quincy Butler set up TCU at the Army 12-yard line. Ballard, who stepped in for injured starter Tye Gunn three games ago, finished with 45 yards rushing.

TCU seemed ready to take control early, dominating the first quarter. The Frogs methodically drove 67 yards in 5:36 on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard dive by Merrill and added another lengthy drive that ended with Ballard's 11-yard
touchdown pass to Cory Rodgers with 26 seconds left in the period.

But the Black Knights managed to hang around, scoring when Scott Wesley broke a third-and-inches play 42 yards for a touchdown and thoroughly outplaying TCU in the second quarter.

"In the first half, we knew we had them fragile," Army safety Caleb Campbell said. "They were uptight. We knew we could go out there and put a stake in their heart."

After watching TCU hold the ball for more than 11 minutes in the first period, Army did the same in the second. The Black Knights narrowed the TCU lead to 14-10 with Justin Koenig's 23-yard field goal and had a chance to close within one, but Koenig's 37-yard
attempt on the last play of the first half was wide right.

TCU's second-quarter performance had Patterson livid, and he let his team know it at halftime.

"I told them they should be embarrassed," Patterson said. "They weren't playing smart in any phase of the game."

The Frogs extended their lead to 24-10 with two more long drives that led to Chris Manfredini's 27-yard field goal and a TD pass from Ballard to Aaron Brown, who spun away from a hard hit at the 10 and breezed into the end zone.

Still, the Frogs couldn't seem to shake Army, which responded with a 66-yard march, highlighted by a 37-yard completion from Zac Dahman to Jeremy Trimble on fourth-and-4. That set up Carlton Jones' 3-yard touchdown run, cutting the TCU lead to seven with 8:10 left.

"We let the opportunity get away," Campbell said.

Merrill finished with 85 yards rushing and 40 receiving for TCU.

Dahman completed 22-of-40 passes for 252 yards but was intercepted three times by TCU, which entered the game leading the nation in takeaways and turnover margin and tied for first in interceptions. The Frogs are now plus-15 in turnovers and have taken the ball away 26 times, including 15 interceptions.

Dahman became Army's career total offense leader with 5,680 yards, breaking the mark of 5,524 set by Leamon Hall from 1974-77.

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