TCU thrashes UC Davis; Ballard still unbeaten as a starter

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Aaron Brown was again the only one of
TCU's top three tailbacks dressed to play. He came through with
another impressive performance.

Brown ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns, taking option pitches
to the right and to the left for scores, and caught five passes for
59 yards as the No. 23 Horned Frogs beat I-AA UC Davis 46-13 on
Saturday night for their 12th straight victory -- the nation's
longest I-A streak.

"We just try to give him the ball as much as we can, and he has
a chance to break plays," said Jeff Ballard, undefeated as TCU's
starting quarterback. "He's a special player. It's a comfort zone
for me with him in the game."

Senior running backs Robert Merrill (back) and Lonta Hobbs
(foot), both who have had 1,000-yard seasons, haven't played in
either game for TCU (2-0). Brown has made sure they haven't been
missed too much.

"I'm trying to be versatile and keep defenses off key so they
don't know if I'm going to run or catch," said Brown, who finished
with 132 total yards.

Brown had 156 total yards in the season-opening 17-7 victory at
Baylor, the sophomore's first career start. He ran 15 times for 49
yards and caught four passes for 107 yards, including the go-ahead
84-yard TD in that game.

Ballard was 18-of-23 passing for 190 yards with two touchdowns
and ran for another score in his three quarters against UC Davis.
He has been the starter in the last 10 TCU wins since replacing
injured senior Tye Gunn last season.

TCU has the longest winning streak because defending national
champion Texas lost 24-7 to Ohio State on Saturday night. That was
the Longhorns' first loss in 22 games.

"Any time you're first in the country, it's something
special," Ballard said. "The longest streak, that's exciting for
us. We hope to extend on that."

That may not be easy with No. 24 Texas Tech coming to Fort Worth
next week. TCU lost 70-35 to its in-state rival two years ago.

UC Davis (1-1), which won 20-17 at Stanford last season, got a
field goal on its opening drive in its first game ever against a
Top 25 team. But TCU scored on its next four possessions to go
ahead 23-3 and finished with 461 total yards.

"We watched them on film, but when you get on the field, their
speed is a little different. I really thought, the stats might not
show it, our defense played well," Aggies coach Bob Biggs said.
"Our defense was on the field a long time, and they started to
beat us on the edge."

Jon Grant was 13-of-25 passing for 211 yards with two
interceptions and scored the Aggies' only touchdown on a disputed
leaping dive into the end zone.

The Aggies are completing the transition from Division II to
I-AA and have had 36 straight winning seasons. TCU coach Gary
Patterson was the linebackers coach at UC Davis in 1986.

Ballard ran for TCU's first score, lunging into the end zone
after a UC Davis defender swiped at his ankles inside the 5. That
came two plays after Walter Bryant made a leaping, one-handed catch
across the middle of the field.

TCU had short fields for its next three drives, starting at the
UC Davis 36 after a muffed punt snap and twice at the 32. The Frogs
got a 49-yard field goal from Peter LoCoco, an 18-yard TD pass from
Ballard to Shae Reagan and Brown's first score.

Marvin White's interception set up the TD for Brown, who had a
16-yard catch and 12-yard run on the short drive before scoring.

"We played to our potential tonight," Brown said. "We don't
look past anybody."

The Frogs learned that lesson the hard way in the second game
last season.

After being unranked and opening 2005 with a 17-10 upset victory
at No. 7 Oklahoma, the Frogs lost to overmatched SMU the following
week. They haven't lost since.

"This week in practice, we had a lot more focus, a lot more
attention to detail. We were not going to let that happen again,"
Ballard said. "SMU was a fluke thing that shouldn't have happened.
UC Davis was another team like them, that could sneak up on us."

Grant scored just before halftime on a keeper, leaping inside
the 5 and extending the ball. While in the air, he was undercut by
Jared Retkofsky and didn't appear to get the ball over the goal
line. But the referee ruled touchdown. With no indisputable
evidence to overturn the call, the touchdown stood after a review.

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2015 Big Sky Conference Standings

Southern Utah7-18-4
Portland State6-29-3
North Dakota5-37-4
Northern Arizona5-37-4
Eastern Washington5-36-5
Weber State5-36-5
Northern Colorado3-56-5
Montana State3-55-6
Cal Poly3-54-7
UC Davis2-62-9
Idaho State1-72-9
Sacramento State1-72-9