Sometimes all it takes is one big play to get things going.
TCU used a long Josh Boyce touchdown reception and two more late-second quarter scores to pull away from Portland State University en route to a 55-13 victory over the Vikings Saturday at Amon Carter Stadium.
The win was TCU’s 22nd straight at home, setting a Mountain West record.
TCU quarterback Casey Pachall finished the game 14-of-20 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns, the biggest being the 66-yarder to Boyce that put the Frogs in the end zone for the first time and put them ahead of PSU for good.
Around the two minute mark in the second quarter, Pachall found Boyce wide open on an inside slant and the speedy receiver turned up field and sprinted into the end zone untouched.
But the play almost did not happen. Boyce said he was tired before the snap and was trying to get his backup, Cam White, into the game.
“I tried to call Cam White in but he came in after we broke the huddle,” Boyce said. “Then I saw both safeties come down so we knew they were going to blitz. We called the perfect play and I just caught the ball and ran up the field.”
Boyce’s big play may have been just what the Frogs needed after what had been an stagnant first half for the TCU offense.
If anything, it ignited the defense.
Two plays into PSU’s next drive, Tank Carder intercepted a pass from Drew Hubel and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.
Carder, who is still recovering from a hand surgery he had two weeks ago, said the interception, originally deflected by TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, was simply a result of good fortune.
“That was just the right place at the right time,” Carder said. “It popped up right in my face so I caught it.”
But the scoring did not stop there.
After stopping PSU again, TCU return man Skye Dawson took back a Thomas Duyndam punt 42 yards to the Vikings’ 11-yard line. Three plays later, Pachall would find Dawson on a nine-yard touchdown pass to put the Frogs up 24-3.
But up until TCU’s three late-second quarter scores the game had been tied at 3-3 with TCU trailing at one point.
The visiting Vikings drove the length of the field to open the game before being stopped on third down at the Frogs’ five-yard line. PSU settled for a field goal to get out to an early 3-0 lead.
TCU would go three-and-out on their first offensive possession but got the ball back a second time and drove into PSU territory on a drive aided by runs of 24 and 12 yards from running back Waymon James. The Frogs were stopped on third down, but kicker Ross Evans would nail a 35-yard field goal to tie the game.
The Frogs’ next possession was stalled when a Casey Pachall pass was deflected off his intended receiver and into the arms of PSU safety Joel Sisler.
PSU would go three-and-out, though, giving the ball back to TCU just before the Frogs’ late-first half scoring spree.
TCU went into halftime with a 24-3 lead and picked up where they left off in the third quarter, scoring early and often.
One of those scores came from James, who enjoyed a career day on the ground, rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
James’ score came on TCU’s first play of the second when he reeled off a 65-yard run for his first touchdown of the game. On the verge of being brought down, James managed to spin out of traffic, fight off several defenders and break free, sprinting the rest of the way untouched into the end zone.
James also added an 82-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter for his second touchdown of the game.
Patterson said his team’s first-half performance, before the last two minutes of the second quarter, was not their best.
“The first half was not very emotional,” Patterson said. “Offensively, we came out slow. We got to do a better job of it.”
Pachall said he agreed and felt like he and the rest of the team came out a little flat.
“I don’t think I had the greatest game because maybe in a way we were a little too relaxed,” Pachall said. “Mentally, I feel like there were quite a few of us, including myself, that got a little relaxed and didn’t push as hard as we needed to.”
Patterson said TCU will have to perform better if they want to win their next two games.
“We’ll take a win right now,” Patterson said. “But we’re going to have to play a lot better the next two weeks to win with SMU and San Diego State coming down the pipe.”