So close, yet so far: football falls in 3OT thriller to No. 12 Baylor

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Following a 9-9 tie after regulation, TCU football fell in a nail-biter to No. 12 Baylor in triple overtime 29-23, giving the Bears a win over the Frogs for the first time since 2014. 

The loss is the Frogs’ fourth of the year by seven points or less.

“This is probably the most disappointed I’ve been,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “Your kids play their tails off then get beat in a triple overtime game: that’s a tough ball game.”

In the first overtime, wide receiver Tre’Vailance Hunt had made the catch of his life on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Max Duggan, elevating over his defender and getting his elbow down to keep the game alive for TCU.

Two drives later, the Frogs saw first-and-goal from the Baylor one yard line but could not reach the endzone, ending the game.

Receiver Te’Vailance Hunt made the play of the game on fourth down for TCU to send the game into double overtime. Photo by Heesoo Yang

“At the end of the day, you have to finish,” Patterson said. “They made the last play, we didn’t.  That pretty much sums it up.”

After being questionable all week, Duggan finished 14-for-32 with 140 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. The game was the second in a row for the young signal caller to throw three picks.

To no one’s surprise, the first half was slow, as TCU and Baylor rank first and third, respectively, in the Big 12 in total defense. After the Frogs came away from their first drive with a field goal, the teams traded punts, then traded interceptions.  Through the first 15 minutes, the teams gained a combined 109 yards.

TCU’s opening drive field goal meant more than usual though, as they became Baylor’s first opponent this season to score on an opening drive.  The Bears entered the game ranked first in the Big 12 in scoring defense, giving up 18.5 points per game.

The teams remained dormant offensively until the end of the first half.  After holding Baylor to a missed field goal, TCU kicked another field goal to go up 6-0 with 29 seconds left.

It was a defensive battle on Saturday, as regulation ended in a 9-9 tie. Photo by Heesoo Yang

It looked like the half would end there, but the Bears muffed the Frogs’ squib kick, leading to a 31-yard field goal moments later to extend TCU’s lead.

Not only had Baylor gained 73 yards at the half, but it was the first time they’d been held scoreless in the first half all season.

This slow pace bled into the second half as well. After the Bears got on the board for the first time with a field goal of their own, the teams traded punts again.

Another interception by Duggan, this one off the hands of his receiver, gave Baylor another field at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

All three of TCU’s fourth quarter drives ended in punts, giving Baylor a chance to win the game with 3:23 remaining in the game.  The Bears gave the Frogs quite the scare, reaching the TCU 27 and taking several good shots into the endzone.

The TCU defense held strong though, forcing Baylor to kick a 51-yard field goal to stay afloat. Though his career-high was just 38, Bears’ kicker John Mayers nailed the attempt to send the Frogs into their first overtime contest since 2016.

It took eight plays, but Baylor scored the game’s first touchdown on their opening drive of overtime to go up 16-9. 

TCU responded poorly, finding itself with a 4th-and-9 from the Baylor.  Searching for life, Duggan floated one perfectly to Hunt, but it appeared that the corner had forced the second-year receiver out of bounds.  The Bears rushed the field, but upon further review, Hunt got his elbow down for the score to tie the game.

“Awesome,” Patterson said about Hunt’s catch.  “I’ll tell you this much, I couldn’t make that catch.”

The Frogs wasted no time in the second overtime, scoring after five plays on a one-yard rush by running back Sewo Olonilua.

With victory in sight, TCU got Baylor down to fourth down with their backs against the wall, but receiver Denzel Mims escaped the secondary on a quick slant and tied the game.

Baylor’s two-point conversion attempt fell short though, and Patterson said that he thought the game was TCU’s to win.

Facing third down, Duggan made another one of those see-it-to-believe it plays, escaping the grab of a lineman and spinning through several defenders to find the endzone. On review, the first-year quarterback had stepped out at the Baylor three-yard line. 

“He’s not making all the plays we want him to make,” Patterson said.  “[But] the ground foundation is unbelievable, so we need to just keep growing on that.”

After losing three yards on the next three plays, a face mask penalty by Baylor gave TCU first-and-goal at the Bears’ one. As they had all game, the Frogs struggled to find the end zone, and Duggan’s fourth down pass was intercepted to end the game.

Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer finished with 195 yards passing, his lowest total in Big 12 play.  Baylor’s 294 yards of total offense were their lowest of the year.

Linebackers Garret Wallow and Ben Wilson combined for 21 tackles on the day.  Defensive end Ochaun Mathis added seven tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks in the loss.

Linebacker Garret Wallow (30) finished with double-digit tackles in the loss. Photo by Heesoo Yang

Baylor held TCU receiver Jalen Reagor to one catch for eight yards in the game.

“We just went toe-to-toe with the 12th-best team in the nation,” Patterson said.  “Bottom line is you’ve got to find a way to win.”

TCU needs to win two of their last three games to gain bowl eligibility.  Next week, the Frogs leave the friendly confines of Amon G. Carter Stadium for a matchup on the road with Texas Tech. Kickoff in Lubbock, Texas, is scheduled for 11 a.m.