The 45-point favorite Frogs needed all 60 minutes of the contest to defeat the Jayhawks after suffering another round of injuries.
“It’s been an interesting year,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “The kids found a way to win.”
The contest was marred early on when TCU starting quarterback Trevone Boykin left the game after suffering a high ankle sprain and did not return. Patterson however was confident that Boykin’s injury would not be season ending.
“I think Trevone will be back,” Patterson said. “We just couldn’t take a chance. He’s got to get himself healthy.”
In a plot twist, it was the defense, not the offense, that kept the Frogs alive in Saturday’s contest.
“We found a way to overcome,” Patterson said. “Finally we won on defense. The guys did what they needed to do.”
The Frogs got out to a quick start, taking a 10-0 lead over the Jayhawks in the first quarter after freshman KaVonte Turpin returned a punt for a touchdown, followed by a 42-yard field goal by kicker Jaden Oberkrom shortly after.
But itt was the Jayhawks turn to make some noise soon after, scoring 10 unanswered points to send the game into halftime tied at 10-10. It was the first time the Jayhawks had not trailed at halftime since leading the Frogs 13-10 a year ago in Lawrence, Kansas.
“Honestly, in the first half we came out with no energy,” TCU senior safety Derrick Kindred said. “During halftime we just talked a lot about coming out there and playing our best and everyone was getting energized about big plays.”
The Frogs came out of halftime with the ball first only for Kohlhausen to be picked off in Kansas territory by Fish Smithson. After a three and out on the ensuing TCU drive, Foster Sawyer replaced Kohlhausen at quarterback.
The Frogs got back out in front when Jaden Oberkrom converted on a 38-yard field goal attempt to give the Frogs a 13-10 lead. The Frogs would extend their lead in the fourth quarter when Sawyer found Shawn Nixon for a 42-yard touchdown pass to make it a 20-10 contest. It was Sawyer’s first career touchdown pass as a Horned Frog.
Oberkrom would convert another field goal with 9:51 to go in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 23-10. The Jayhawks scored a touchdown late in the quarter and had a chance to win it down 23-17 with just under two minutes to play, but quarterback Ryan Willis was picked off by linebacker Ty Summers to seal the victory for TCU.
As gritty and ugly as the victory may have been, Patterson gave credit to his squad that has been so depleted from injuries all year long.
“It’s definitely impressive,” Patterson said. “We’ve had guys step up, especially younger guys that have been able to come in and contribute to the program.
Patterson said that he saw a bright future in the performance of Sawyer, as what was a lackluster offense earlier in the game scored 13 unanswered points once Sawyer entered the game.
“He only played a quarter, but I was proud of Foster,” Patterson said.
Boykin wasn’t the only starter that needed to be replaced in today’s contest. Long snapper Matt Boggs left the game after suffering a season ending leg injury in the first half. Cornerback Nick Orr also exited late in the game after taking a shot to the head while attempting to break up a pass.
“You can’t blame today on injuries. We just want to win games and the next guy has to step up.” Patterson said. “They’ve been part of a program just as much as everyone else, so it’s something guys have been able to do and hopefully we can get some guys back.
The Frogs are slowly seeing some injured players return, as receiver Emanuel Porter saw action on Saturday for the first time since the Frogs’ contest against Texas Tech on Sept. 26. Patterson also confirmed earlier in the week that receiver Ty Slanina will be cleared to play next weekend.
“I don’t know how these next two weeks will go because we are pretty banged up, but we’ll be back to a pretty good football team by bowl-game time,” Patterson said. “This group will battle. They will play hard the next two weeks.”
The Frogs head to Norman, Oklahoma next Saturday to take on the No. 12 Sooners before heading home for a contest against No. 6 Baylor to conclude the season on Nov. 27. The Sooners and Bears face off against each other tonight in Waco, Texas.