On the Brian Estridge radio show Thursday night, TCU football head coach Gary Patterson said his team “didn’t practice as well this week” and needed to step up their effort to beat Baylor two days later.
Patterson’s players answered that call in the first half on Saturday.
TCU opened the game with a 30-0 run that would prove to be just enough to hold off Baylor and earn their second win of the season and first since Sept. 22.
The Bears went on a 16-0 run of their own in the second half to make the game interesting, but a late fourth down stop by the Frogs’ defense helped seal their 33-23 victory on Halloween.
“[It] brings such a sigh of relief to a team that’s put in a lot of work,” quarterback Max Duggan said. “Beating a team like Baylor feels really good. Gives us good momentum going into the next opponent.”
TCU is now 2-0 on the road, with all three of their losses occurring at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
After struggling to establish the run a week ago against Oklahoma (25 carries for 75 yards), the Frogs relied on their ground game in Waco. TCU racked up 247 yards and two scores on 44 carries in the contest.
Redshirt freshman Darwin Barlow led the way with his legs, recording a career-high 117 rushing yards along with a score. The game was the first 100-yard performance of his career and the first of 2020 for TCU.
The Frogs also saw vast improvement in the area of pass rushing. After entering the game with just five sacks on the season, TCU sacked Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer five times on Saturday alone.
The Frogs’ first drive looked like a reflection of their rough week of practice. The Frogs went three-and-out, failing to score on their opening offensive possession for the fifth-straight game.
It would be all TCU for the majority of the first half, though. The Frogs moved easily on their next drive, advancing to the Baylor three-yard line on a dime from Duggan to receiver Quentin Johnston. Barlow scored untouched on the next play.
That drive seemed to open the floodgates for TCU. The Frogs would go on to score four more times, taking a 30-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by kicker Griffin Kell.
“Everybody else wants you to have their problems — you got to solve them yourself,” Patterson said of the strong first half. “[You’ve] got to get to where you hate losing. Got to get pissed off about it. They did a nice job.”
During the TCU run, several Horned Frogs had made their presence known for the first time this season.
After the Bears went three-and-out on their second drive, wide receiver Derius Davis found a hole and exploded for a 67-yard punt return touchdown.
“I’m thankful for my blockers, they allow me to spring,” Davis said. “[I] got to the corner [and] made one guy miss. The rest is history.”
Former TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor shouted Davis out on Twitter during the game. Reagor returned two punts for a touchdown in 2019.
The score was the junior’s first of the year and TCU’s first on special teams since Reagor returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown against West Virginia in 2019.
Three TCU drives later, true freshman Zach Evans took his first carry of the game 30 yards for the first score of his career in the purple and white.
The Frogs went into halftime with a commanding 30-7 lead after outgaining the Bears 192-80 in total yards of offense in the first two quarters.
The second half was a different story, though. After Barlow ripped off on a 74-yard run to put TCU in the red zone on their opening third quarter possession, Baylor held the Frogs to just a field goal.
The Bears would then use their momentum to score 16 unanswered points, cutting the Frogs’ lead to just ten with 10:25 left in the fourth quarter.
“The defense gets tired,” Patterson said. “That’s what happened when we got beat 61-58. They came back running the football. Got to give credit to them.”
Patterson was referring to when TCU fell to Baylor 61-58 in 2014 after the Bears ended the game on a 24-0 run.
Like they were trying to give it away, TCU gained just nine yards before punting it back to Baylor. Safety Tre Moehrig would then hault the Bears’ comeback efforts, swatting down Brewer’s pass on fourth down.
Moehrig finished with a game-high eight tackles, two passes defended and a tackle for a loss.
The Frogs have now won five of their last six matchups with the Bears.
TCU will look to keep rolling and get their first win at home next weekend, as they take on Texas Tech (2-3). Kickoff at Amon G. Carter Stadium is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.