Not done yet: Football slips away from Lubbock with a win, bowl eligibility still realistic

0
1126
Print Article

After blowing a 24-3 lead, TCU football clawed their way to a 33-31 victory over Texas Tech in Lubbock to keep their hopes of reaching a bowl game alive and well.

“It’s a great feeling,” running back Darius Anderson said about the win.  “We had some hard times, but we still came to practice, heads down and ready to work; so, to have this victory, it feels like it paid off.”

The Red Raiders had a chance to win the game with 2:23 remaining, but a forced fumble by safety Vernon Scott gave TCU the ball and the victory.

Scott finished with a team-high five tackles to go with a pass breakup and the forced fumble in the contest.

Receiver Taye Barber set career-highs with eight catches and 137 receiving yards. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

Quarterback Max Duggan recovered well from back-to-back three-interception games, carving up the Texas Tech secondary for a career-high 323 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. The first-year signal caller also added 75 yards on the ground.

After taking a 21-point lead just three minutes into the second quarter, the Frogs defense struggled, giving up a 28-3 run by the Red Raiders on which they took the lead late in the third quarter.

“Offense did good. Defense tried to screw it up,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “I’ve never seen a group try to screw it up, but we found our way to get our stops.”

Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey feasted on the TCU secondary for 333 yards and four touchdowns.

Though TCU did not score a touchdown in the second half, two fourth-quarter field goals by kicker Jonathan Song would be just enough to secure the victory.

Song was 4-for-4 on field goals in the win, improving him to 21-for-22 on the season.

Quarterback Max Duggan evades the defense and runs up field. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

Having led the Frogs in rushing in three of their last four games, Duggan picked right back where he left off on the game’s opening drive, showing off his legs on two runs of 20-plus yards, the second of which was a house call.

TCU continued to roll in the first quarter, scoring on each of their first three drives. The second score, a 36-yard field goal by Song, came courtesy of linebacker Wyatt Harris’ first career interception.

On their third drive, the Frogs finally saw things go their way, as a tipped pass led to a 43-yard gain by receiver Taye Barber. Two plays later, Duggan hit tight end Artayvious Lynn to put TCU up 17-0 before Texas Tech could blink.

“You have to get off to a fast start,” Patterson said. “They just came off a victory against a team that was probably going to get bowl eligible. For us, we’re one game closer, and that’s what we’re trying to get accomplished.”

The wheels kept turning in the second quarter. After the Red Raiders got on the board with a field goal, the Frogs needed just three plays to score, as Duggan hit Reagor on a dart for a 55-yard touchdown. The play was TCU’s longest pass play of the season thus far.

The score ties Reagor with former Frog Josh Boyce for second all-time at TCU in career receiving touchdowns (22).

Texas Tech didn’t go away though, showing off their offensive prowess on two straight passing touchdowns to pull within eight before the half.  TCU shot themselves in the foot, as both scores came on coverage mistakes.

Another Song field goal extended TCU’s lead to 27-16 going into the halftime break. The teams had combined for 542 yards in the first half alone, while TCU and Baylor combined for just 602 yards in last week’s triple-overtime game.

The second half started poorly for the Frogs, as cornerback Jeff Gladney was ejected from the game on the fourth play of the half on a targeting call.  On the next play, Gladney’s replacement, first-year Kee’yon Stewart got burnt for a 32-yard score.

As if things could not get any worse for TCU, their defensive meltdown continued as the second half went on. After Tech quarterback Jett Duffey shook off tackle after tackle to convert a third down, the Frogs left receiver Erik Ezukanman wide open in the endzone, and the Red Raiders took their first lead of the game with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

For the next 14:27 of play, the teams traded field goals and the lead.  With 2:23 left to go, the Frogs were forced to punt and rely on their defense to win the game.

Though they had struggled all game, the TCU defense stepped up big when it mattered. On Tech’s first play of their potential game-winning drive, Scott forced a fumble that was picked up by Trevon Moehrig to give the Frogs the ball back.

Safety Vernon Scott (26) saved the game for TCU with his forced fumble in the fourth quarter. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

A few plays later, Anderson caught a burst of speed to the left side to gain a first down and allow TCU to run the clock out from there.

 “Everybody talked about finishing when we went out there,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to finish. One first down, and we were able to get that.”

The Frogs advance to 5-5 and will need to win one of their final two games to receive bowl eligibility.

Barber finished with a career-high eight catches for a career-high 137 yards. Reagor added three receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.

“I don’t really look at stuff like that,” Barber said about his stats. “I just play to win and play as hard as I can.”

Up next, TCU will head to Norman, Okla., to face the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners. Kickoff at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium will either be at 2:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.