In a tie for the largest comeback in bowl-game history, it was the Frogs who emerged victorious after facing their largest deficit of the year. Without starting quarterback Trevone Boykin, who was suspended after an arrest just two days before the game, the Frogs were able to muster enough energy to come back and stun the Ducks.
“It’s just one of those teams,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “They just never quit.”
The game was the largest comeback for the Frogs in the Patterson era, as TCU had to rally back to beat an Oregon team that dominated them in the first half.
“The first half we didn’t play very well defensively,” Patterson said.
After being shut out in the first half for first time since October 2013 at Oklahoma, and recording a mere 96 passing yards and a total of 142 yards opposed to Oregon first half total of 376 yards of offense, the Frogs seemed all but finished.
They were not.
“I told them we had an opportunity in the second half to show Oregon what our program was all about,” Patterson said. “We’ve had to do that before. At Kansas State, we were down big and came back.”
The turning point came when Oregon starting quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr. left the game late in the closing of the first half of the game due to an apparent injury, forcing Jeff Lockie to come in at quarterback for the Ducks.
From there on out it was all TCU, as the Frogs scored 31 unanswered points before overtime.
After senior backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen, who was named the game’s offensive MVP, converted on a 26 pass to Jaelan Austin for the Frogs’ first touchdown of the game to cut the Oregon lead to 31-10, the Frogs caught even more momentum when they recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Kohlhausen would run into the end zone himself shortly after to make it a 30-17 game.
The Frogs would edge even closer when Jaden Oberkrom executed a field goal in the fourth quarter to make it a 31-20 game. After forcing Oregon to punt on the ensuing drive, the Frogs scored again when Aaron Green ran it into the end zone for a two yard touchdown.
Rather than settling for an extra point, the Frogs went for two and converted when Shaun Nixon found Buck Jones in the end zone on a reverse pass.
With seconds to go in the game and the Frogs once again getting the ball back after forcing an Oregon punt, Jaden Oberkrom knotted it at 31 when he hit a 22 yard field goal.
“In the first half we were shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties,” Kohlhausen said. “In the second half we were able to get rolling, pick at that 31 points.”
Both teams found the end zone in the first overtime, in which Oregon was forced to convert on 4th down to keep their hopes alive. A field goal by each team would send it into a third. That was when the Frogs came through.
After Kohlhausen recorded a rushing touchdown and the Frogs failed to convert on the two-point conversion, the defense came through when it mattered most, batting down an Oregon pass on 4th down to complete a comeback for the ages.
“You have to appreciate the leadership in these guy’s heads,” said outside linebacker Ty Summers. “There’s some big shoes to fill. I think we have guys that are going to be ready to fill these shoes in the next season.”
Players said the game will be an experience they will remember for a lifetime.
“This will be one I’ll tell my grandkids about,” Kohlhausen said. “I mean this is a night I thought would never happen. But I honestly just dedicate this one to Trevone [Boykin]. He was the one who showed me how to play like I did tonight.”
The game wasn’t only special for Kohlhausen, who started at quarterback on two days notice. San Antonio native and senior Aaron Green was able to end his career in dramatic fashion right where he learned to play the game.
“It meant a lot to win here, but most importantly it meant a lot for me to win my last game in purple with my teammates, with my brothers,” Green said.
Green said it was the perfect example of TCU’s will to fight back in a season which the team faced so much adversity, something that extended to previous seasons.
“We’ve been through a lot man,” Green said. “Just to be part of us turning this team around in the Big 12 means everything to me. These four years that I have been here is definitely something I will remember forever.”
The game will all but certainly go down as one of the greater moments in TCU football’s storied history.
“To win a ballgame like this, to come back, you have to have a bunch of plays that happen for you,” Patterson said.
And the plays happened for the Frogs. Coach Patterson even dared to change his shirt from black to purple at halftime, a hot topic for TCU fans in the second half.
“I did the same thing at [Iowa State],” Patterson said. “I started in black, we were down 21-0. I will never wear black again.”
Whether it was some TCU magic or the will of a talented core of players to fight back until the end, the Frogs overcame their ultimate hurdle, and the players can enter 2016 victorious.