Football misses shot at bowl eligibility with loss to WVU

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Jalen Reagor sulks as TCU misses their shot at a bowl game. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

Needing a win to reach bowl eligibility, TCU football ended their season Friday as they fell just short at home against West Virginia, losing 20-17.

“[You’ve] got to make plays,” head coach Gary Patterson said.  “You can’t give ball games away.”

The Frogs gave up a touchdown with 2:10 remaining to give the Mountaineers the 20-17 lead. The loss drops TCU to 5-7 on the season.

Safety Ar’Darius Washington was one of the lone bright spots for TCU in the game, as the emerging first-year recorded two interceptions in the contest.

Quarterback Max Duggan finished just 15-for-36 for 144 yards and two interceptions.

It looked like rainy weather in Fort Worth may have been playing a factor early, as a strong hit on wide receiver Jalen Reagor after a catch on TCU’s first drive of the game popped the ball up in the air and into the hands of the Mountaineers.

West Virginia would score just four plays later to go up 7-0 less than five minutes into the contest.

The Frogs, led by their seniors, would respond well. Minutes later, receiver Taye Barber exploded up the right sideline for a 64-yard rush to put TCU deep in West Virginia territory. This set up a two-yard rushing touchdown by running back Sewo Olonilua to tie the game at seven.

The ground score was the 18th and final touchdown of the senior’s TCU career.

Running back Sewo Olonilua scores a touchdown in his final game as a Horned Frog. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

On the next play from scrimmage, senior cornerback Julius Lewis made a diving interception, his first of the year, to give the Frogs the ball right back.

Two drives later, senior kicker Jonathon Song drilled a field goal from 30 yards out to give the Frogs the lead.

The Fort Worth native finished his senior season 23-for-24 on field goals and a perfect 39-for-39 on extra points.

The rest of the half was slow, as West Virginia kicked a field goal of their own to tie the game at 10 going into halftime.

Kicker Jonathon Song was nearly perfect in his senior season with TCU. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

It appeared that the Mountaineers were going to take a lead before halftime, but safety Ar’Darius Washington grabbed his fourth interception of the year to stop West Virginia short before the break.

Washington was not done, though. The first-year safety made another great read on West Virginia’s first drive of the second half, picking the Mountaineers off for the second time in as many possessions.

The Shreveport, Louisiana, native becomes the first Horned Frog to record two or more interceptions in one game since safety Nick Orr did on October 8, 2016, against Kansas.

With both offenses struggling to find the endzone, Reagor decided to do things himself. The junior took a West Virginia punt 70 yards to the house to give the lead back to TCU in the third quarter.

Receiver Jalen Reagor (1) returns a punt to the house against West Virginia. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

The score was the second punt return touchdown of the season by Reagor.

The big play did not wake the offenses up, however. For the next 23 minutes of play, another Mountaineer field goal was the only score that occurred.

With 4:47 left to go, West Virginia got the ball with a chance to take the lead.  It looked like TCU had them stopped, but defensive end Ross Blacklock was called for targeting, ejecting him from the game and putting the Mountaineers deep in TCU territory.

Just two plays later, West Virginia took the lead on a 35-yard touchdown pass.

TCU would get two more opportunities to score from there, but they turned it over on downs both times. Duggan didn’t even get a chance to throw on TCU’s final offensive play, as he was swarmed by West Virginia’s defensive front.

“They have some really good players up front,” Patterson said about West Virginia. “They’ve been getting pressure on everybody.”

West Virginia’s defensive front put pressure on Max Duggan all game. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

Out of TCU’s seven losses on the season, six of them were decided by six points or less.

Despite the loss, TCU held West Virginia to just 244 total yards, which falls well below their average of 329.0 per game. This makes the Frogs a perfect 12-for-12 this season on holding opponents below their season total offense averages.

Linebacker Garrett Wallow finished the game with 12 tackles. His 125 total tackles on the year rank fourth for a single season during the Patterson era.

This is just the third time in Patterson’s 19 years as head coach that TCU has not reached a bowl game.

“[I] already did,” Patterson said when asked when he starts evaluating for next season. “Started in August. Can’t be good at what you do and decide Dec. 1 to go evaluate.”