No. 19 Horned Frogs Hold Off SMU, 20-13

Robert Merrill tries to break the tackle of SMU linebacker D.D. Johnson during the first quarter.

Robert Merrill tries to break the tackle of SMU linebacker D.D. Johnson during the first quarter.

Nov 29, 2003

Final Stats

AP Sports Writer

DALLAS - Robert Merrill ran for 98 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown with 7:18 left, and No. 19 TCU rebounded from its BCS dream-shattering loss with a 20-13 victory over winless SMU on Saturday.

The Horned Frogs (11-1) have their most wins since 1938, but won't get to play in a Bowl Championship Series game or even the Liberty Bowl because of their 40-28 loss at Southern Mississippi on Nov. 20.

Merrill's game-clinching run came on the last of his 15 carries when he took a handoff to the right, sidestepped into an opening and ran untouched into the end zone. His 1,081 rushing yards are a TCU freshman record.

After SMU (0-12) was forced to punt, the Mustangs were about to get the ball back when quarterback Brandon Hassell ran just 6 yards on third-and-18. But defensive tackle Allan Adami was called for a 15-yard facemask penalty, giving the Frogs a first down and allowing them to run out the final two minutes.

TCU won its record fifth straight game in the rivalry game between the Division I-A teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Frogs have a 39-38-7 series lead.

Southern Miss clinched the Conference USA title and Liberty Bowl berth with its 38-21 win Saturday at East Carolina. That means TCU will play in one of three other bowls: GMAC, Fort Worth or Hawaii.

It was the first time the Mustangs lost every game in a season. Their only other winless seasons were 1916 (0-8-2) and 1960 (0-9-1).

SMU is 39-115-3 in the 15 seasons after serving the NCAA's only death penalty. The only winning season in that span was 6-5 in 1997, but the Mustangs didn't go to a bowl after losing their season finale 21-18 to a TCU team that had been 0-10.

TCU took a 13-10 lead when Nick Browne kicked a 42-yard field goal in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. That ended a 12-play drive on which the Frogs took their first snap from the 1 after a punt and a false start penalty.



The Mustangs tied the game at 13 on Chris McMurtray's 22-yard field goal. They weren't able to convert first-and-goal from the 9 after Chris Phillips' 53-yard screen pass to Keylon Kincade, and TCU responded with its winning drive.

Kincade ran for 70 yards, finishing with 1,280 this season and fifth on SMU's career list with 3,038. Eric Dickerson holds the school record with 4,450 yards.

Hassell completed 18 of 26 passes for 180 yards. Reggie Harrell had just three catches for 36 yards, but his 905 yards this season are a school record.

D.D. Lee's interception helped the Mustangs tie it at 10 just before halftime. After faking a handoff and rolling right, Hassell threw a pass right at the linebacker.

Three plays later, with TCU defenders heavily pursing Kincade, Phillips pulled the ball back and ran to the left sideline, diving into the end zone to complete the 17-yard score.

The Horned Frogs got another chance, but Browne's 54-yard field goal attempt was wide right. His made 33-yarder and missed 44-yarder ended the previous two TCU drives.

SMU led 3-0 after McMurtray's 33-yard field goal capped an opening 77-yard drive.

Hassell's 15-yard TD run, on an option counter that left the entire right side of the field open for him, put TCU ahead 7-3.

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