On a day when TCU quarterback Max Duggan could not hit the broad side of a barn with his arm, the sophomore got it done for the Horned Frogs with his legs.
With under a minute to go in the third quarter of TCU’s matchup with Texas Tech on Saturday, Duggan saw an opening and took it, juking out the first defender before beating the rest to the end zone.
Three drives later, Duggan called “game” on the same play, but this time, it went for 81 yards and gave the Frogs a 16-point lead with 1:42 remaining in the ball game.
“He’s just a freak athlete,” safety Tre Moehrig said of Duggan. “You’ve seen it before, and don’t think you’re going to not see it again.”
That was a lead the Frogs would not see diminished, as TCU defeated Texas Tech 34-18 to earn their second-straight win and bring the Saddle Trophy home for the second-straight year.
The win was the 200th of head coach Gary Patterson’s career in the purple and white. The 20-year coach shifted the praise for reaching the landmark on those he has had around him.
“That’s just a lot of good players over 23 years,” Patterson said. “Lot of good players. Lot of good coaches. Lot of good fans. It’s everybody.”
While Duggan was just 11-for-23 with 73 yards and an interception through the air, the young signal caller rushed for a career-high 154 yards and three touchdowns on the day.
“Tonight, I wasn’t throwing the ball great, and I need to be better about that,” Duggan said. “It was good that we were able to move the way that way [running], especially when we weren’t able to throw.”
After the game, wide receiver Derius Davis, one of the fastest players on the TCU roster, said Duggan would “for sure” beat him in a foot race.
“Not even close,” Duggan said about Davis’ remarks. “I would get dusted by him.”
Davis was able to use his speed to make a difference in the game as well. After taking a punt 67 yards to the house last week against Baylor, Davis had 103 punt return yards against Texas Tech, including a 50-yard return in the third quarter that set up a field goal.
The legs of Duggan and Davis made up for a primarily stale offensive day for TCU. The Frogs started five of their 15 drives within the Red Raider 40 yard line, but only one of them resulted in a touchdown.
On the other hand, the Frogs were dominant on defense, tying their season-high five sacks (all in the first half). The Red Raiders gained just 311 yards of total offense, which is their second-lowest total of the season.
“We did it early. We didn’t do it as well late,” Patterson said of his pass rush. “I was proud of them, because the last two ballgames, we’ve really come on.”
After totaling just five sacks in their first four games, TCU has recorded 10 sacks in their last two games alone.
TCU forced Texas Tech to punt on nine of their 15 possessions, with a turnover on downs and an interception coming on two others.
The start of the game could not have been more sloppy offensively for either team. In the first quarter, eight drives were completed, with the teams combining for just 36 yards of total offense.
TCU’s initial drive had included just one play–an interception by Duggan on a poorly-thrown fade attempt to receiver Blair Conwright.
While the Frogs gained just seven yards on their ensuing drive, a blocked punt by linebacker Ben Wilson had placed them deep in Red Raider territory. Kicker Griffin Kell then nailed a 42-yard field goal to give TCU an early 3-0 lead.
What TCU lacked offensively, they made up for on defense. On Texas Tech’s first five drives, the Frogs held the Red Raiders to negative six yards of offense. During that time, defensive end Ochaun Mathis went berserk, recording a career-high three sacks.
“Even last week, he [Mathis] was really starting to cause problems.” Patterson said. “The more confidence he grows with it, the better he’s going to become, to be honest with you.”
Mathis finished with six total tackles to go with his three sacks. The sophomore became the first TCU player to record three or more sacks since defensive end Josh Carraway did so on Oct. 8, 2016, against Kansas.
The Frogs finally got something going on offense early in the second quarter. After a 20-yard punt return by Davis, TCU crawled its way through Texas Tech territory and extended its lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Duggan.
The teams did little else for the rest of the half, with the Red Raiders kicking a field goal of their own at the halftime buzzer to avoid a first half shutout.
Both offenses seemed to find new life entering the second half.
The Frogs marched 89 yards in 12 plays on their opening third quarter drive, taking up 5:13. Facing third down on the Red Raiders two yard line, TCU ran a beautiful fake up the middle before giving it to receiver Quentin Johnston to take a 17-3 lead.
The score was the second of Johnston’s career and first on the ground.
Texas Tech answered right away, though. Quarterback Henry Colombi completed a pass deep down the left side to wideout Ja’Lynn Polk, who was able to walk into the end zone for a 60-yard score after his defender fell down.
Duggan’s third quarter touchdown run soon followed, but the Red Raiders would not go away, scoring again a few minutes later on yet another deep ball.
The Frogs would then step up defensively, locking up Texas Tech’s final two drives by forcing a missed field goal and then intercepting Colombi with 0:33 remaining to put the nails in the coffin.
The win was the first for TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium this season, having previously been 0-3 when playing at home.
Up next, the Frogs will head back on the road for a face off with the West Virginia Mountaineers. Kickoff in Morgantown, West Virginia, is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14 at a time TBA.