TCU had a second half surge for the third straight home game on Saturday to earn a victory over Kansas, but unlike their first two wins in Amon G. Carter Stadium, the Horned Frogs had trouble putting the game away.
“In the fourth quarter, we’ve got to go get that score that knocks them out,” said TCU head coach Gary Patterson after the game. “It stayed at a one-score game too long.”
TCU (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) defeated Kansas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) 27-17 Saturday after being tied 10-10 at halftime. The Frogs looked like they had a chance to blow the Jayhawks out of the building in the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives after halftime.
On TCU’s first play from scrimmage of the second half, wide receiver David Porter caught a short pass from quarterback Trevone Boykin and slipped a tackle to take the ball 75 yards for the score.
“It was crazy because, when I threw him the ball, I couldn’t even see him,” Boykin said, laughing. “And then all I heard was the crowd just get loud, and he just took off. But he looked like a little pee wee kid, just running down the field.”
Running back B.J. Catalon carried the ball into the end zone from two yards out on the following drive to give TCU a 14-point lead, which appeared to put the game out of reach. But miscues would put Kansas back in contention.
The Jayhawks punted on their next drive, but Brandon Carter fumbled the ball to give Kansas possession at the TCU 27. Quarterback Jake Heaps threw a touchdown pass two plays later, a 27-yarder to wide receiver Jimmay Mundine to make the score 24-17. On the muffed punt, Carter had to maneuver around his own teammate to try and make the grab. Patterson said that should not have happened.
“Even if he tries to catch it, he needs to be screaming it so everybody gets out of his way so he can go catch it,” he said. “Our guys are going back in our return. They better start finding the football, and they’ve got to know they’ve got to get out of the way also.”
The muffed punt was one of five turnovers for the Frogs, three of which resulted in all 17 points for the Jayhawks. Boykin threw two interceptions, the first of which led to a Kansas field goal, while the second was returned 37 yards for a touchdown.
The mistakes gave Kansas excellent field position and kept the TCU offense from sustaining drives. Catalon and fellow running back Waymon James each had a fumble, and in both instances Kansas got the ball inside the TCU 40-yard line.
“Once you get into a crowd of five or six [defenders],” Patterson said, “you need to get down. We’ve got to quit twisting and turning and doing things. There’s an art. There’s an art to being an inside runner.”
The turnovers kept the Frogs from being able to pull away near the end of the game. It was not until kicker Jaden Oberkrom scored a 37-yard field goal with 2:34 left in the game that TCU could really breathe easy.
The miscues overshadowed some bright moments for the Frogs’ offense. Boykin completed 14 of 22 passes for 173 yards and also ran for a score in the first quarter. The Frogs had 207 yards rushing, led by a 91-yard effort by Catalon. Running back Aaron Green led the team in carries with 14, a season-high for him.
“I think that’s good, definitely, to build his confidence,” Catalon said of the increased number of snaps for Green. “Aaron’s a great running back, and I feel like giving him those…carries gets him that feel back out there on the football field.”
The defense also played well, despite being put in those difficult positions by the offense, giving up only 10 points and allowing Kansas to convert only two of its 16 third down attempts. The Frogs allowed Heaps to complete just 50 percent of his passes, intercepting him once and sacking him four times.
Defensive end Terrell Lathan, starting in place of Devonte Fields, who is out for the year with a foot injury, was in on two of those sacks. The 6-foot-5, 280 pound sophomore was able to get plenty of pressure on the quarterback.
“He’s got an unbelievable mix of speed and strength coming off the edge,” said defensive end Jon Koontz, “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to impress a lot of people.”
The team as a whole will hope to look more impressive next Saturday on the road against Oklahoma State. If the Frogs get a lead in that game, they hope to limit the mistakes that kept them from putting this one away.