After an upset win over No. 9 Texas last weekend, TCU football looked flat on Saturday, putting up a season-low 342 yards of offense and falling to Kansas State 21-14.
“It’s hard to win ball games in this league,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “Second time in a row we didn’t come out with a lot of energy. We had more energy at Texas. [You] got to come out with more energy at home.”
The game-winning score for the Wildcats came near the end of the third quarter when Kansas State cornerback A.J. Parker intercepted quarterback Matthew Downing and took it 37 yards to the house.
Downing had been put in on the previous possession after starter Max Duggan was shaken up from a big hit by the Wildcats’ defensive line.
“To be honest with you, he’s taking his biggest hits in the pocket,” Patterson said of Duggan. “To get him taking less hits, we have to run the ball and slow the pass rush down.”
Duggan was able to return shortly after the pick-six but would only be able to produce one score for the Frogs for the remainder of the game.
The sophomore finished 19-for-31 with 154 yards passing in the contest.
The loss marks the second-straight for TCU against Kansas State, as the Frogs fell to the Wildcats 24-17 last year in Manhattan.
For Kansas State, true freshman Will Howard finished 8-for-19 with 117 yards passing and an interception. Howard started at quarterback for the Wildcats in place of the injured Skylar Thompson.
“They [Kansas State] played a really good game,” linebacker Garret Wallow said. “They’re a really good team. They came with a second-string QB and won. I give props to them.”
All season, Patterson has emphasized that TCU needs to stop giving up big plays to their opponents. On the third play of the Wildcats’ first drive, the Frogs fell back into their old ways. Howard burst up the middle on a quarterback run for an 80-yard gain.
TCU was able to hold the Wildcats to a field goal after Howard’s big play, putting Kansas State up 3-0.
Running back Darwin Barlow got things going for TCU. After bursting up the right sideline for 28 yards on the Frogs’ opening drive, the redshirt freshman put TCU on the board with a seven-yard touchdown on their second posession.
All but four of Barlow’s 56 rushing yards on the day came in the first quarter.
The Frogs then went stale offensively, punting on their next three drives. Meanwhile, the Wildcats took advantage, kicking another field goal and then scoring their first touchdown of the day to take a 14-7 lead with 3:27 left in the first half.
“I feel like we beat ourselves, pre snap,” offensive tackle Austin Myers said. “We put ourselves behind the chains, we have to play from behind the chains. That’s on us.”
The score had been set up by a 45-yard catch and run by running back Deuce Vaughn.
TCU kicker Griffin Kell’s 48-yard field goal attempt to end the first half was blocked by Kansas State, keeping the score at 14-7 into halftime.
Things would get worse for the Frogs before they got any better. With 10:41 left in the third quarter, Patterson put Downing in for Duggan, who had been shaken up on the previous drive.
After going three-and-out on his first drive, Downing threw an interception right to the Kansas State secondary that was returned 38 yards for a touchdown to extend the Wildcats’ lead.
The score would remain the same for the next 16:12 of gameplay, as the teams continued to struggle to perform offensively.
Duggan was eventually able to return, and he led the Frogs on an 11-play, 77-yard drive, ending in his three-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
TCU was able to stop Kansas State on their ensuing drive, but it came after a Vaughn first down, which helped the Wildcats eat up 2:34 on the clock.
The Frogs got the ball back at their own four with 1:05 remaining. They were able to get to the Kansas State 39 before Duggan’s game-tying pass attempt was batted down to end the game.
“We have to come in, get our treatment, get ready for the next game,” Myers said. “This one already happened. We have to figure out what went wrong, figure it out before the next one.”
Wallow led the Frogs on defense with 10 tackles, including two for a loss.
After falling to 1-2, TCU will get a bye next weekend before returning home to play Oklahoma. Kickoff against the Sooners is scheduled for Oct. 24 with the time TBA.