Defense leads the way as football grabs crucial victory, 16-9

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Jalen Reagor’s two touchdowns led the way for a TCU offense that has battled injuries all year long. Photo by Jack Wallace

TCU football overcame a plethora of injuries at key positions for a hard-fought, 16-9 win over Baylor.

The team leaned on the defense’s best performance of the season for their fourth-straight win over the Bears, the longest streak in the series since 1989.

“It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in, where you play, what you do, it’s hard to win ball games,” said head coach Gary Patterson. “That was a gutsy win today.”

Starting quarterback Michael Collins went down with a leg injury in the first quarter and would not return. Collins was already replacing sophomore Shawn Robinson, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury, so the team looked to fifth-year senior Grayson Muehlstein.

Muehlstein had completed one career pass coming into the game but turned in a performance that led the Horned Frogs to victory.

Grayson Muehlstein had completed one pass in five years before today. Photo by Jack Wallace

“Today we needed him and for him to come in and step up and do everything he could to put us in an opportunity to win the game and ultimately winning the game just speaks volumes about what type of person he is,” senior Ben Banogu said of Muehlstein.

Muehlstein would finish 11-15 with 137 yards and a touchdown. He did not turn the ball over once, a stability that the TCU offense had been lacking this season.

Along with Collins, both running backs Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson went down with injuries Saturday, leaving the offense barren of its main playmakers.

However, they still had Jalen Reagor. The sophomore wide receiver stepped up, and then some, and helped the injury-riddled Horned Frogs leave Waco with a victory.

Reagor, the Waxahachie native, scored twice, once on a 65-yard tunnel screen and again on a 37-yard reverse handoff, giving the Horned Frogs 12 of their 16 points. He has scored a touchdown in six straight games, tying a school record.

Reagor said he knew of the high expectations on him, especially given the number of injuries, and felt ready to live up to them.

“The way the season has gone I have to do stuff like that,” he said. “When I do get the ball I have to show why I’m getting so much attention.”

Reagor’s two touchdowns and a first-quarter field goal by Jonathan Song would prove to be enough for a defense that proved why it’s still one of the best in the Big 12.

Baylor’s 303 total yards was their second-lowest output this year and just the third time this season they had been held below 400 yards.

They converted only four of 15 third downs, and sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer was sacked five times. The Bears would score just one touchdown in what amounted to a dominating performance by Patterson’s defense.

Ben Banogu had a career-high 10 tackles Saturday. Photo by Jack Wallace

Like the offense, the defense was missing some of its key players. Linebacker Ty Summers only played a few snaps before going out with an injury while the team was already missing starting defensive backs Innis Gaines and Niko Small.

But just as the offense had Reagor, the defense had Ben Banogu. The senior set a career high with 10 tackles, including a sack and four tackles for loss.

“At the end of the day I was just doing my job and helping the team out,” Banogu said.

Banogu forced a fumble on the second play of the game, one of three TCU takeaways that would lead to 9 of their 16 points. It was just the third time this season the team has won the turnover battle.

The defense forced three takeaways and scored 9 points off of them. Photo by Jack Wallace

The team will return to Fort Worth next weekend for their regular season finale against Oklahoma State with a bowl game on the line. With a record of 5-6, they will need a win to gain bowl eligibility.

“I’m just proud that these seniors have an opportunity at home to win another ball game and go to a bowl game,” said Patterson. “That’s all you want is a chance. We got a lot of work to do.”

Kick-off will either be at 6 or 7 p.m. next Saturday against the Cowboys.