Ballard carries TCU to sixth straight win

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry thought his team was as well-prepared as it had been all season. No. 21 TCU emphatically put an end to that notion.

Jeff Ballard threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to lift the Horned Frogs to a 48-10 victory over the Falcons, as TCU remained the only undefeated team in the Mountain West Conference.

"It was like pitch-and-catch," said Ballard, a midseason replacement for the injured Tye Gunn. "We've shown we're a passing team, too, and not just a running team. I'm getting more comfortable with the plays and understanding more about the offense."

Ballard went 20-for-28 for TCU (7-1, 5-0), which won its sixth straight game and maintained a 1½-game lead over Colorado State in the first season in the Mountain West for the Horned Frogs.

Air Force (3-5, 2-4), which snapped a four-game losing streak last week, used its triple option to hold the ball for nearly 35 minutes, but mistakes hurt the Falcons. They had a punt blocked, committed 90 yards in penalties and missed two field-goal tries, and Shaun Carney threw an interception in the TCU end zone.

"What was disappointing for our football team was the number of penalties we got," DeBerry said. "It was very, very uncharacteristic of Falcon football. Penalties will take away your momentum quicker than anything in the world."

DeBerry said he woke up Saturday morning and told his wife he felt good about the game and his team's preparation.

"We prepared very well and I thought our guys were ready to play," DeBerry said. "Obviously, TCU was ready to play and they played a fine football game."

The Horned Frogs started early, taking the lead with a 74-yard drive on the game's opening possession, capped by a 1-yard touchdown by William Jackson.

Trailing by 11, the Falcons pulled within 14-10 when Carney scored from 3 yards out midway through the second quarter. But Ballard answered by leading the Frogs on a 69-yard drive, capping it with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Brent Hecht.

Then, after Thomas Crump's block of an Air Force punt, Ballard scored on a 1-yard run to give the Horned Frogs a 27-10 lead at halftime and the rout continued from there.

TCU receiver Cory Rodgers caught six passes for 128 yards and a score.

Carney finished 11-for-18 for 148 yards but threw two interceptions, including one that Drew Coleman picked off in the end zone to end Air Force's opening drive.

Tempers flared midway through the second quarter when TCU lost Coleman after a questionable downfield block by Air Force third-string wide receiver Victor Thompson.

Thompson cut Coleman's lower legs in the back corner of the end zone as Air Force ran a dive up the middle at the 15-yard line. Thompson was flagged for an illegal block and as Coleman left the game with a right leg injury, TCU coach Gary Patterson was mad
enough to yell at the officials and the Air Force bench.

"I asked the official and he said [Thompson] made a football play," Patterson said. "I didn't think it was a very good football play but those things happen. I'm an emotional coach, so I get a little upset, then I settle down. I was disappointed in the young man, but the game's the game."


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