The No. 3 Horned Frogs survived yet another thriller Saturday, beating the Texas Tech Red Raiders 55-52 in comeback fashion at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas to improve to 4-0.
The team was propelled by last second heroics from senior running back Aaron Green, who caught a tipped pass for the go ahead touchdown on fourth and goal with only 23 seconds left in the game. The Frogs entered the drive trailing 52-48.
“I’ve got to give this group credit,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “They just keep finding a way to find a win, even when people say you weren’t supposed to.”
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin said he couldn’t believe it when he saw that Green had swooped in to make the grab.
“He was supposed to be over the ball, not at the back of the end zone, but thank God he was,” Boykin said. “Sometimes you just need a little luck in this game and we pulled through.”
The game was an offensive show for both teams. The Frogs totaled 750 yards of offense in the game, while the Red Raiders totaled 607 yards.
Boykin threw for a whopping 485 yards and 4 touchdown passes in the win. Senior wide receiver Josh Doctson caught for a TCU single game record 267 yards, in addition to catching three touchdown passes.
Doctson’s record night was complemented by 18 receptions, tying the Big 12 record for the most catches by any player in a single game.
“To win a ballgame like that, you’re going to have to have somebody do something like that,” Patterson said. “It was awesome.”
Boykin praised Doctson for his record performance against the Red Raiders.
“Josh is a great receiver,” Boykin said. “He makes plays all over the field. He’s been through the fire with us, and he really just comes out and plays his heart out every time we’re out there.”
Doctson, often a critic of his performance, was also pleased with the team’s offensive showing.
“We just played with a ton of effort without the ball in this game,” Doctson said. “That last play on fourth and four was a prime example, we were just playing hard until the last minute.”
The Frogs opened the scoring on their first drive of the game in the first quarter, when Boykin found Doctson for a 9 yard touchdown pass to put TCU ahead 7-0. The Red Raiders would respond during the following drive however, when running back DeAndre Washington ran the ball in for a 1 yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 apiece.
Heavy rain impacted the game midway through the first quarter, but the weather eventually moved out of the area by the second quarter.
The Frogs led the Red Raiders 16-14 at the end of the first quarter, but Texas Tech would jump out to a 21-16 lead when Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes found Jakeem Grant for a 44 yard touchdown pass. The Frogs would lead the Red Raiders 33-28 at the half though, propelled by a second touchdown pass to Doctson with just 15 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Frogs looked destined to extend their lead even further in the opening drive of the second half, but senior kicker Jaden Oberkrom missed a 25 yard field goal attempt wide right. Oberkrom had already had a field goal attempt blocked early on in the 2nd quarter.
Texas Tech would regain the lead 35-33 on the following drive, thanks to another short rushing touchdown by Washington.
The Frogs went on to respond with another touchdown on the next drive. This time it was Green, rushing 7 yards into the end zone to put the Frogs ahead 40-35, in what became a back and forth battle between the two teams. A Texas Tech field goal on the ensuing drive, however, made it 40-38 entering the fourth quarter.
After several lead changes early on in the fourth, including a touchdown which saw the Frogs complete a two point conversion, Texas Tech went ahead on the Frogs 52-48 when Mahomes completed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Justin Stockton with 5:55 left in the game.
The Red Raiders’ defense forced their only three and out against the Frogs the entire night on the next drive, but the Frogs’ defense responded on the following drive, giving the ball back to TCU with just over three minutes left in the contest.
The Frogs would move the ball all the way to the Texas Tech 4 yard line within the final minute of play, but Texas Tech’s defense held Boykin and company, forcing the Frogs to go for it on fourth down, down four points with only 23 seconds left on the clock.
Boykin attempted a pass to Doctson that was tipped off Doctson’s fingers, but the tip was caught in the end zone by a diving Aaron Green for the game winning touchdown, stunning the crowd of 61,283.
“Thank goodness,” Patterson said. “I don’t know where he came from, but thank goodness. As soon as I saw it [Green’s foot] go down I knew it was a catch.”
Green said that for him, it was simply a matter of following the ball.
“My coaches always preach it to us,” Green said. “Whoever has the ball, follow it, because you never know when something like that might happen. I saw it the whole way, and I caught it.”
Doctson said he asked himself if he was dreaming upon seeing Green make the score.
Texas Tech had a chance to stun the Frogs on the last play of the game, completing several laterals to make it all the way to the red zone. Grant however was forced out of bounds at the 10 yard line, sealing the deal for the Frogs in an all-time classic.
Patterson said he was in for a bit of a shock when the Red Raiders nearly carried out the play that eerily resembled the ending of the game between Cal and Stanford in 1982.
“I saw the offensive line and I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’,” Patterson said. “We had guys running all over the place, thinking ‘how is one guy going to get him on the ground’?”
The Frogs defense once again struggled in the win however. Not only did they allow 607 yards of total offense in the game, but the Red Raiders particularly shredded the Frogs’ goal line defense, going 5-5 on scoring chances in the red zone.
“You’ve got to just get stops because we’re going to look at film and find out it was not necessarily what Tech did on some of them,” Patterson said. “There’s little things [new guys] have to learn that you have been telling them, and until it happens to them in a ballgame and it’s at a pivotal point, they don’t get it.”
Patterson said that he would have preferred to give up fewer points, but all that matters is that his team came out on top.
“It’s hard to go on the road and win in this conference,” Patterson said. “We haven’t won here in four times, and we took a ballgame like that to win. Right now we’re very excited about winning 55-52.”
The offense also suffered a setback in the loss of senior receiver Ty Slanina, who suffered a broken collarbone in the first half of the game. Patterson said Slanina will likely miss the rest of the 2015 season.
The Frogs showed a lack of discipline in giving up 10 penalties for 110 yards, including a bizarre sideline interference penalty late in the game. Texas Tech only allowed three penalties for a mere 32 yards.
For Patterson and company though, it’s all about moving past mistakes and looking forward to the next opponent.
“There’s some things you’ve got to learn from it,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “You’ve got Texas up next at home.”
The Frogs take on the Texas Longhorns back in Fort Worth on October 3. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CDT.