Sept. 2, 2004
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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Despite a sensational offensive effort by Northwestern, which included a school-record 513 passing yards from quarterback Brett Basanez, the Wildcats were unable to pull out a victory in their season opener, falling 48-45 in double overtime to TCU.
Peter LoCoco kicked a 47-yard field goal in the second overtime, giving the Horned Frogs the victory.
Northwestern trailed by 14 points and came back to tie the game three times. The last rally came with 13 seconds left when Basanez's 8-yard TD pass to Shaun Herbert forced overtime.
But Brian Huffman missed five field goals for the Wildcats, including both of his attempts in overtime.
LoCoco, whose 25-yard attempt was blocked in the first overtime, got another chance when TCU went backward on its second overtime possession. Tye Gunn was sacked by Adam Kadela for a 6-yard loss, and then threw an incomplete pass before the go-ahead kick.
The Wildcats got one more possession, but Huffman's 38-yard field goal was wide right to end the four-hour game. He had missed from 25 yards in the first overtime.
Gunn threw for a career-high 368 yards on 20-of-38 passing with four touchdowns in his return as TCU's starter to remain undefeated.
Basanez also had a career night, completing 39 of 62 passes for a Northwestern record of 513 yards and four touchdowns -- matching his season total for last season. He also rang up 548 yards of total offense, surpassing Zak Kustok's total of 532 set against Bowling Green in 2001.
"We're certainly disappointed that we couldn't get the win -- our guys gave a great effort," said NU coach Randy Walker. "I was really proud of the character that our team showed. If we can correct our mistakes -- and a lot of our mistakes were mental ones -- we can be a pretty good football team."
On the last drive of regulation, Basanez converted a fourth-and-3 with a 20-yard pass to Ashton Aikens and then completed five more passes in a row to move to the 8. After an incompletion, he threw the tying TD.
That made up for his only interception, a pass that deflected off Mark Philmore to Marvin Godbolt. The safety returned the ball 31 yards, and a late-hit penalty moved the ball to the Northwestern 44. The Frogs needed just five plays before Gunn's 24-yard pass to Rogers provided a 45-38 lead with three minutes left in the season opener for both teams.
Reggie Harrell, who last season year became TCU's first 1,000-yard receiver, had two touchdowns among his five catches for 95 yards. Michael DePriest had three catches for 125 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown, and Lonta Hobbs ran for 142 yards and two scores.
And all 525 yards of total offense and all those points almost weren't enough for the Frogs.
Northwestern ran 100 plays for 637 yards, but never led.
Jonathan Fields had eight catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Philmore caught 12 balls for 131 yards. It was the first time Northwestern had two 100-yard receivers in a game since Nov. 21, 1998 against Hawaii.
Northwestern tied the game at 31 with 17 points in the third quarter, aided on two of its scoring drives by huge penalties against safety Flander Malone.
A roughing the passer penalty against Malone wiped out an interception, and Northwestern drove for Huffman's 41-yard field goal - the only one he made.
Three plays after LoCoco's 37-yard field goal, Basanez hit Fields for a 63-yard touchdown.
Northwestern faced third-and-5 at the 31 on the next drive. Basanez threw a pass for Herbert, but Malone was called for pass interference. Noah Herron's 16-yard run on the next play tied the game for the first time at 31.
TCU took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, after Gunn threw TDs to Harrell and DePriest.
Huffman missed three field goals in the first half, two of them hitting the upright.
"It is certainly easy to make Brian the scapegoat for this loss, but we had too many other self-inflicted wounds that contributed to the loss," said Walker. "I really feel for Brian, especially after having such a terrific preseason camp. I'm not sure if he even missed six field goals the past three weeks."
Northwestern returns to action next Saturday, Sept. 11 when it hosts Pac-10 foe Arizona State at 11 a.m. at Ryan Field. The Sun Devils defeated UTEP 41-9 Thursday night in their opener.