Before the season, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin said he felt like the Bears had one of the best offenses in the country.
He might be right.
Griffin and Baylor racked up 34 points and 360 yards of offense in the first half alone en route to a 50-48 season-opening victory over TCU , handing the Frogs their first regular season loss since 2008.
But the Bears’ win didn’t come without high drama.
Baylor took a 47-23 lead into the fourth quarter only to watch it shrink to eight after TCU quarterback Casey Pachall led two touchdown drives – one resulting in a one-yard pass to tight end Logan Brock and the other ending with a nine-yard pass to receiver Josh Boyce.
The Frogs went for the two-point conversion after both scores and converted twice, running the score to 47-39.
After stopping Baylor on their next possession, TCU got the ball back and found themselves on the Bears’ 49 yard line, one score away from tying the game.
And the Frogs responded.
Pachall completed four straight passes, the last resulting in a 19-yard touchdown to freshman receiver David Porter. TCU tried to go for two a third straight time but failed, leaving the Frogs down by two with just over seven minutes left in the game.
The TCU defense, which had struggled all night, gave the Frogs just what they needed, though, on Baylor’s next possession.
Frog defensive end Stansly Maponga forced and recovered a Griffin fumble which set Pachall and the rest of the offense up on Baylor’s 39-yard line with 6:54 left on the clock and a two point deficit ahead of them.
TCU wouldn’t score a touchdown, but they got the points they needed to take the lead when senior Ross Evans drilled a 27-yard kick.
Baylor, down by one, wasn’t finished just yet, though. Griffin drove the Bears 60 yards down to the TCU 20-yard line setting up kicker Aaron Jones with a 37-yard attempt for the lead.
Jones nailed it.
TCU would get the ball back one last time on their own 14 yard line after the Baylor kickoff with 1:04 left on the clock. Pachall completed four straight passes, getting the Frogs into Baylor territory and on the edge of Evans’ field goal range.
Evans would never get a shot.
Facing third and ten, Pachall was pressured by Baylor defenders and forced into throwing a pass that resulted in an interception and the end of TCU’s chance at a comeback.
Pachall said his intended receiver on the interception just got caught in coverage.
“(Baylor) dropped a lot of people,” Pachall said. “One of my receivers got hung up on one of the linebackers and I was throwing it to where I was expecting we was going to be.”
Pachall, who was making his first college start Friday night, said despite losing, the game was a valuable learning experience.
“I did learn a lot going out there,” Pachall said. “Of course, it wasn’t what anybody would expect from their first start, but I learned a lot of things and we’ll be ready next week.”
TCU head coach Gary Patterson said he was proud of his team’s comeback efforts but that at the end of the day wins and losses are all that matter.
“I thought they showed unbelievable class, unbelievable determination for the way we trailed to come back in the fourth quarter to get back in that ballgame and get ahead, ” Patterson said. “We’re not a program that gets moral victories. We’re not that kind of program.”
His defense, though, in particular a secondary that gave up 414 yards through the air, was a major disappointment.
“You can’t let six balls go over your head and expect to win a ball game,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to give Baylor all the credit. They did a good job, Robert Griffin and their receivers getting the ball over our head.”
TCU’s last regular season loss was Nov. 11, 2008 when they dropped a 13-10 decision at Utah.
TCU may be a young team – six true freshman saw action Friday night — but one of the players there for the Utah loss was senior tight end Logan Brock, who had four catches for 41 yards and led the Frogs with two receiving touchdowns Friday night.
Brock said the team must refocus and get ready for Air Force next Saturday
“We just got to regroup and focus on the next week,” Brock said. “We had two weeks to prepare for this one and we couldn’t quite get it done. We got one week for this next one so we need to re-gather and get better as a team.”