The Horned Frogs came up short against Kansas State Saturday afternoon, losing 24-17 in a nail biter at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Despite a good effort by TCU on both sides of the ball, a fourth quarter touchdown by the Wildcats earned Kansas State the victory.
First-year quarterback Max Duggan became the first TCU quarterback since 2015 to rush for 100-plus yards. The young signal-caller finished the game with a total of 115 yards on the ground.
Defensively, TCU limited K-State’s offense to 266 yards, while holding the Wildcats’ dominant rushing attack to a season-low of 94 total yards on the ground. Meanwhile, TCU had 366 yards of total offense on the game, demonstrating their explosive running game once again with 228 rushing yards.
While the Horned Frogs held the edge through many statistical categories, the difference ultimately came in big plays produced by K-State, including a blocked kick and a 60-yard quarterback run, both of which resulted in Wildcat touchdowns.
The first big play of the game occurred early in the first quarter. In a remarkable effort, K-State’s Jonathan Alexander managed to block a TCU punt and retrieve the ball at the TCU 20-yard line. It only took two plays for K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson to convert, putting the Wildcats up 7-0.
TCU’s rushing game came alive in the second quarter, leading to an 8-yard touchdown by last year’s Cheez-it Bowl MVP, Sewo Olonilua. Running backs Olonilua and Darius Anderson combined for 102 yards rushing on the game.
Following another K-State touchdown, the Frogs mounted a final drive to end the quarter but were forced to settle for a short field goal. At the half, the Wildcats led 14-10.
K-State carried their momentum through to the third quarter, completing two quick passes for 32 yards, enough to earn them three points off of a field goal of their own.
In the next series, Duggan took off for two huge runs. Duggan’s first run, a 24-yard gain, came off a scramble. Looking fired up, Duggan flew downfield on a quarterback read just one play later, going for 46 yards that resulted in a spectacular diving touchdown. This tied the game 17-17 with about eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams’ bursts of offense fizzled out for the remaining quarter and a half. Following Duggan’s score, there were six consecutive three-and-outs in total.
Malik Knowles, a K-State receiver who was “doubtful” coming into the game due to injury, had the biggest play of this stalemate, making a reception for 33 yards. Knowles led the Wildcats in receiving yards for the game with 48.
With neither team letting the other gain much ground, the game came down to a few final plays.
At about the 8-minute mark in the fourth quarter, Thompson broke free for a 61-yard run all the way to the TCU 29-yard line. A few plays later, he would cap off their late drive with a rushing touchdown to put the home team up for good.
The Frogs had a chance to tie up the game with two minutes remaining but fell short due to an incomplete pass intended for Jalen Reagor on fourth down.
Reagor finished the game with a season-high in catches (8) and receiving yards (85).
TCU’s leading tackler was linebacker Garrett Wallow, who totaled eight on the day.
The Horned Frogs will be returning home next weekend to face No. 15 Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter.