Kenny Cain couldn’t make himself go inside.
He had his helmet in his hand, his arms in the air and a grin on his face as he stood Saturday afternoon on the red rubber track surrounding Kivisto Field at Kansas’ Memorial Stadium.
“Kenny!” head coach Gary Patterson yelled as he ran toward Cain, the rasp in his voice as hoarse as one might expect it to be after four quarters of football. “Come on. We need to get inside.”
And so it’s on to the next one for the Frogs.
TCU beat Kansas 20-6 Saturday afternoon in a game filled with turnovers, missed opportunities, missed field goals and even a late-game, last-ditch drive by the Jayhawks, which, fittingly, ended with a fumble near the goal line.
Patterson was just happy to leave Lawrence with a win, he said.
“We feel really fortunate to get out of here with a victory,” Patterson said. “I warned our guys that you’ve got to go play every week, especially when you’re on the road.”
For most of Saturday’s game, TCU looked like the same team that drove up and down the field a week ago with efficiency and ease in a 56-0 win over Grambling State. But it was the minor lapses, mainly on offense, that kept the Jayhawks within distance.
Four plays into its game-opening drive, the TCU offense had taken the ball down to the KU nine-yard-line where it faced second down and four. But center James Fry’s snap was low, skirting under Casey Pachall who couldn’t fall on it. KU’s Josh Williams recovered it and took it 16 yards to the 49-yard-line, setting the Jayhawks up for an eventual field goal that would give them an early 3-0 lead.
On the their next possession, the Frogs would again get deep into KU territory, down to the 23-yard-line, before Pachall was sacked just before making a throwing, forcing a fumble and another TCU turnover.
But there wouldn’t be any points at the end of KU’s second takeaway.
TCU safety Sam Carter intercepted a Dayne Crist pass on the game’s next play, and four plays later Pachall found Brandon Carter for an 8-yard touchdown pass to give the Frogs a lead they’d keep the rest of the game.
“Elisha [Olabode] gave me a great call and I just sprinted to the flats,” Sam Carter said. “That was a big deal. Those guys had all the energy, and we needed something to happen.”
Brandon Carter would finish with eight catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Ladarius Brown had five catches and 70 yards in his second career game, and Josh Boyce finished with five catches for 66 yards.
“I think probably the best in the nation,” Pachall said of his receiving corps. “As long as we do what we have to, and they prepare and our offense, I don’t see hardly any team stopping them.”
Brandon Carter’s second score, a 25-yard pass from Pachall in the third quarter, was a go-up-and-get-it grab similar to the one he pulled down last November against Boise State.
Still, even after that touchdown gave TCU a 17-6 lead, its largest of the game at the time, the Frogs couldn’t find a way to bury the Jayhawks.
Freshman Jaden Oberkrom’s 27-yard field goal put TCU ahead a 20-6 lead heading into the final quarter.
On the Frogs’ first possession of the fourth quarter, Pachall, who finished an efficient 24-of-30 passing for 335 yards but battled tough luck around the end zone all afternoon, scrambled out of the pocket on second and four, got down to the goal line and fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone, leading to a touchback which gave KU the ball on their own 20-yard-line.
After forcing a KU three-and-out, TCU got the ball back and, once again, methodically worked its way down inside the Jayhawks’ 10-yard-line only to lose it on a Matthew Tucker fumble.
With just more than three minutes left in the game, KU went to work and eventually got down to the TCU 10 when Crist found Andre Turzill on a 41-yard pass.
Three plays later, Crist piled his way toward the goal line and nearly scored before Stansly Maponga popped the ball loose and Olabode recovered it in the endzone for the touchback.
“We knew we did not play well today, but you have to give KU a lot of credit,” Patterson said. “You can’t just move the football and take for granted that you are going to score.”
Now, the Frogs (2-0 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) turn their attention toward Virginia, which comes into Amon G. Carter Stadium next Saturday for an 11 a.m. kickoff, TCU’s second early start in a row.
But even Patterson, seemingly in such a hurry Saturday to get back to the locker room after the Frogs’ win, took a few moments afterward to think about the timing of his first Big 12 victory coming in his home state.
“One of the greatest things about coming into the Big 12 was coming back home,” Patterson said. “I have waited 30 years to come back here.”