The No. 3 Horned Frogs are just one game away from claiming the Mountain West Conference championship, after a close 40-35 win over San Diego State University.
The Horned Frog defense couldn’t hold SDSU (7-2) and managed to double the amount of points allowed in the six previous games, 16 points, in just one game against the Aztecs.
“Fourteen” was an important number for the Aztecs early on in the game, Aztec junior quarterback
Lindley shares the same number as Frog quarterback Dalton, 14, and 14 was the margin of lead SDSU had to open the game.
SDSU scored on its first possession of the game. The drive started with a 49-yard pass by quarterback Ryan Lindley to Vincent Brown. The Aztecs then drove the ball into the goal line to start the game with an SDSU lead.
The Aztecs continually were able to make plays out of the Frogs mistakes. Quarterback Andy Dalton fumbled the ball at the goal line, which was recovered by the Aztecs for a touchdown.
The Frogs were behind for only the fourth time this season. The last time the Frogs trailed was against SMU in late September.
Bart Johnson said that the Frogs came out flat and wasn’t playing in a form that was needed.
“We just had to keep our heads up and keep chopping,” Bart Johnson said.
The late start by the Frogs took a toll on the Horned Frog offensive line coach Eddie Williamson.
Williamson suffered from a heart attack in the first quarter and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. His condition at the end of the game was described as stable.
Head football coach Gary Patterson said the status of Williamson put the team in a disarray early.
Bart Johnson said the team said a prayer for 10 year coach Williamson at half time, and the thought was always in the back of his mind.
“After that… we had to go out there and focus for sure,” Bart Johnson said.
The Frogs first major play came on a fourth down touchdown drive late in the first quarter. Dalton threw to senior Jeremy Kerley who drove the ball 38 yards for the touchdown.
TCU seemed to keep its eye on the score and continued driving the ball for the touchdown. The Frogs second touchdown came at the end of the first quarter by a pass from Dalton to tight end Logan Brock. Junior Ross Evans missed the point after, forcing the Frogs to trail by one point going in to the second quarter.
Freshman Waymon James brought the Frogs into the lead for the first time in the game with a 9 yard rushing touchdown scored in the third quarter.
After a shaky start, the Horned Frog offense kept pushing through the Aztecs. Dalton connected with wide receiver Kerley, for the second time in the game, for a 9-yard pass to bring to Frogs lead to an even greater margin.
Dalton and Kerley connected to make key plays for the Frogs. The first half ended with a four yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Kerley. Kerley scored three touchdowns for the Frogs in the first half alone.
Kicker Evans scored three more points for the Frogs with a 36 yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Aztecs closed the third quarter with 50 yard pass from Lindley to Brown to the TCU 2 yard line. On the next play, SDSU drove the ball past the goal line to score against the top ranked defense in the nation.
TCU head football coach Gary Patterson told Versus during halftime that Eddie Williamson, offensive line coach, suffered a heart attack during the first quarter.
The Frogs were trailing 14-0 during the first quarter. TCU led SDSU going into halftime 37-14.
Senior Tejay Johnson intercepted an Aztec pass and returned the ball 29 yards to bring the Frogs into the red zone. Evans finished the drive out with a 31-yard field goal.
Tejay Johnson said that the team did not feel like they played to the best of its ability.
“I feel like we kind of lost focus going into the fourth quarter, and we had to try and find it back,” Johnson said.
The Horned Frog offense did not have any turnovers during the second half until the middle of the fourth quarter when Aztec Ronnie Hillman intercepted Dalton’s pass. The Frog defense came out after the play ready to keep the Aztecs contained, but the defense was only able to control so much.
The Aztec quarterback continued pushing past the Frog defense and scored a 33 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Just a few minutes later the Aztecs scored again and brought the gap to only five points between SDSU and the third-ranked team in the nation.
Andy Dalton was unavailable for comment after the game, and said he didn’t want to talk, said director of media relations Mark Cohen.
Patterson said the Frogs should have had more points of the board, but missed field goals and points after touchdown’s hurt the ending score.
“The bottom line is we’re 11 and 0… it’s what we wanted to do,” Patterson said.