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TCU runs winning streak to 12 in rainstorm

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Texas Christian survived a rain hampered evening Saturday night to extend its nation's best winning streak to 12 games at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the campus of Southern Methodist.

A desperation pass attempt by SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert at the end of the game was intercepted on the TCU 5-yard line as the Horned Frogs reclaimed the Iron Skillet 24-16 and avenged their last loss, which came at the hands of the Mustangs in overtime last year.

"I'm glad were 4-0," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Every time I've ever come into this ball game it's been like this. Doesn't matter what the records have been. We've always struggled when we've come over here. We're fortunate that we got the win but were going to have to play much better football next week vs. Iowa State to get a win."

TCU fumbled three times on special teams in the final five minutes of the game. Two came from the Horned Frogs' punt team when the long snapper bounced the ball to the punter and a third came when TCU attempted a 49-yard field goal.

"I told them we're going to have to survive this," Patterson said of his halftime speech. "Guys were taking stuff off and we weren't ready to go back out there. We got lucky."

It has been a theme for TCU this season to not close out games completely. The Frogs struggled in games against Kansas and Virginia with late turnovers.

Early, though, it was TCU's opponent that had trouble sustaining drives and avoiding turnovers. The Mustangs turned the ball over six times in the game, including four interceptions by Gilbert. It was the first time since 2009 that the Frogs had four interceptions in a game.

"I'm proud of it," said junior safety Elisha Olabode, who had one interception and four tackles. "It was a defensive game with the weather. The defense has been working on getting chemistry. We all communicate very well and understand each other. You have to take pride in it."

Fumbles by both teams slowed early drives into the opponent's half of the field. The Horned Frogs' Skye Dawson fumbled on a reception, and then just two plays later Mustangs running back Zach Line fumbled on a handoff.

TCU capitalized on Line's turnover by striking first with 5:27 to go in the opening quarter when quarterback Casey Pachall found LaDarius Brown on a 10-yard touchdown pass to open up the scoring. The Frogs would then take advantage of another Mustang turnover just three minutes later.

Olabode picked off Gilbert and returned the ball to the SMU 6-yard line. It would take TCU just three plays to find the end zone again when Pachall hit an open Matthew Tucker on a two-yard touchdown pass. The reception was Tucker's first touchdown catch of his career.

Gilbert struggled to get a rhythm with his receivers in the first quarter, completing just one pass on eight attempts with one interception.

He settled down, though, on his first drive to start the second quarter, leading SMU to its first points of the game. Completing a third-and-long pass, Gilbert drove his team to the TCU 21-yard line. Line took advantage of the wet weather and slipped off of the Horned Frogs' tackling at the line to cap the eight play drive with a 21-yard touchdown that cut TCU's lead to seven with 9:26 to go in the half.

Gilbert continued to have problems completing passes thanks to two straight drops that would have been first downs.

Dawson returned an SMU punt to the Mustangs' 4-yard line and it took just one play for TCU to put up a score. Tucker took the handoff from Pachall and, after sidestepping to the left, fell into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.

"I had a great block in front of me and was able to find a way through to set up our team for a score," Dawson said of his return. "We can't make excuses because of the weather. We just have to go out there and do what we do."

NOTES: TCU's Matthew Tucker had his first receiving touchdown of his career ... The Frogs have had at least one player claim Big 12 honors in each of their first three weeks of play ... SMU's Zach Line rushed for over 100 yards against Texas A&M and Baylor ... The game against TCU is SMU's final on its non-conference schedule before it begins its final season in Conference USA.
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