Football’s comeback effort falls just short in Norman

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After trailing 21-0 in the second quarter, TCU football went on a 24-7 run, falling just short of an upset against No. 8 Oklahoma in Norman.

“You’ve got to give Oklahoma credit,” head coach Gary Patterson said.  “They’re a good football team, but I was very proud of our team.”

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts scored four touchdowns against TCU. Photo by Jack Wallace

The Frogs had a chance to win the game with 3:16 remaining, but first-year quarterback Max Duggan threw his first interception of the game to end any chance at a victory.

“We lost by four points against a very, very, very good team,” right guard David Bolisomi said.  “Every loss is tough.  It just hurts that we were right there.”

Duggan finished with just 65 yards passing to go with the pick, though he did gain 103 yards and a score with his legs.

Quarterback Max Duggan gained 103 yard on the ground against the Sooners. Photo by Jack Wallace

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts finished with four total touchdowns, with two coming in the air and two via the ground.

The first half started about as poorly as possible for TCU.  The Frogs punted on each of their first four, gaining just 17 yards in the process.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma, the nation’s number one offense, scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives.  Before TCU knew what was happening, they were down 21-0 with 12:56 left in the first half, and the game looked out of hand.

“It’s probably just trying to het back in formations and see how they are going to come at us,” linebacker Garrett Wallow said about fixing the slow start.  “Every game we have to come out faster if we’re going to be successful.”

But for a team that had scored in 333 consecutive games (2nd-longest active streak in NCAA), getting shut out is not an option. 

After the Frogs finally forced the Sooners to punt, first-year quarterback Max Duggan exploded on a 59-yard run to put TCU deep in Oklahoma territory.  Two plays later, running back Sewo Olonilua took a direct snap and dove across the goal line to give the Frogs life.

The TCU defense would stop Oklahoma on their final three drives of the first half, the second of which came via a forced fumble by safety Trevon Moehrig.

The turnover resulted in a 24-yard field goal by kicker Jonathon Song to pull the Frogs within 11 before the half.

TCU came out swinging in the second half.  After the defense forced a turnover on downs, the Frogs went 49 yards in six plays, scoring on an 11-yard run by Duggan on which the quarterback was carried into the endzone by his linemen.

Hurts responded with a strong touchdown run of his own, putting Oklahoma back up by 11 just three minutes later.

In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Sooners got all the way down to the TCU seven yard line, looking to put the game out of the Frogs’ reach.

For the second week in a row, safety Vernon Scott made a play when it mattered.  The senior stepped in front of Hurts’ pass and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown with just 12:43 left to play.

Safety Vernon Scott (26) returns an interception 98 yards for a touchdown against Oklahoma. Photo by Jack Wallace

The pick was just the second of Scott’s career and the first he has taken for a score.

Drama would continue to ensue, as on Oklahoma’s next drive, first-year safety Nook Bradford ripped the ball out of Hurts’ hands to give TCU the ball right back.

“Takeaways are huge for us, and they bring a lot of energy to us and our sideline,” Wallow said.  “It hypes up both sides of the ball.”

The Frogs would fail to capitalize though, punting after a three-and-out.

The TCU defense wasn’t done though. The Frogs stopped the Sooners on fourth down on their next drive to get the ball back again, this time with 3:16 remaining.

The Frogs’ comeback attempt was cut short though, as Duggan’s interception on fourth down gave the Sooners the ball back with 1:41 left.

It appeared that TCU then stopped Oklahoma on 3rd-and-1, but upon review, the Sooners were granted a first down to put the nails in the coffin for the Frogs.

“On the TV version, it was [short],” Patterson said about the play.  “It was a poor decision on their part.”

Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and TCU’s Jalen Reagor, considered to be two of the best receivers in the Big 12, combined for just three catches and 25 receiving yards.  Lamb did add a score.

Bradford finished with a career-high 13 tackles to go with the forced fumble in the contest.  Wallow (15) and safety Ar’Darius Washington (14) also finished with double-digit tackles for TCU.

With their backs against the wall, the Frogs will have to beat West Virginia next week to reach bowl eligibility. Kickoff against the Mountaineers at Amon G. Carter Stadium is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 3:15 p.m.