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Back in the Saddle Again: Frogs hold on for 33-31 win over Texas Tech

TCU Football jumped out to a big lead and held on late to get one win closer to bowl eligibility.

TCU v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Through 15 minutes of play, everything was coming up Horned Frogs.

TCU took the game’s opening possession and marched the ball right down the field, using a combination of a strong running attack, Max Duggan’s wheels, and some beautiful play-calling and execution to get in the end zone for the first time in the first quarter since the game against Kansas all the way back in September.

Duggan looked sharp early, finding receivers with well-placed balls and running for two big gains — a 26-yarder on 3rd and nine and a 20 yard scamper into the end zone, that one on third and six. Converting on third down would be the theme early, as TCU finished the first two quarters 10-13 on those scenarios. The Frogs would get the ball right back, too, as freshman linebacker Wyatt Harris took a tipped ball the other way for his first career interception, and Duggan led his team into field goal range to make it a 10-0 TCU advantage.

The Frogs would add on again in the first quarter, as Duggan found Jalen Reagor and Taye Barber for big plays to set up a four yard reception in the end zone by Artayvious Lynn, making it 17-0. That’s when things would start getting interesting.

It was only a matter of time before Tech’s Jett Duffey got going; the Red Raider’s quarterback, who at one time was their third stringer, has been making big play after big play for his team. He did more of the same Saturday in Lubbock.

Texas Tech got on the board for the first time in the second quarter, as the Red Raiders took 12 plays to go 57 yards and converting a field goal. The Frogs answered though, needing just three plays to get back in the end zone thanks to a 55 yard touchdown strike to Jalen Reagor. That made it a 24-3 game, and it looked like the Frogs were ready to run away with one in Lubbock.

They were not.

Duffey led consecutive scoring drives as the Frogs punted for the first time in the game, and though TCU got a field goal as the first half ended, it was all Red Raiders from the midpoint of the second quarter until the end of the third. Tech outscored their opponent 25-3 over that time period, taking the lead at 28-27 on a wide open passing touchdown (and an uncalled pick play) with five minutes to play in the third. But Duggan and the Frogs would go back on top on the ensuing drive, leaning on senior kicker Jonathan Song to make it a 30-28 ball game one play into the fourth quarter. This was all around the same time that TCU’s senior corner, Jeff Gladney, was ejected for targeting — a penalty that cost him most of the second half Saturday and will cost him all of the first next week in Norman.

It would be a back and forth affair across the final frame, as the two teams would trade field goals twice, settling with a TCU lead at 33-31. The defense stepped up with 5:38 to play, forcing a punt after a three and out. That gave the Frogs back the ball with 4:18 remaining and a chance to salt the game away with their offense.

In a frustrating refrain, the Frogs used the “play not to lose” playbook, predictably ending in a punt. Jordy Sandy, who has... struggled... in 2019, chose this moment to get a leg into one, sailing the punt into the end zone from near midfield. But the defense came up big a play later, forcing a fumble when Vernon Scott knocked it loose from McLain Mannix after a reception, a loose ball that Trevon Moehrig fell on for the Frogs’ second fumble recovery of the season. Darius Anderson picked up a couple of first downs, allowing Duggan to kneel out the win, and get his team one game closer to bowl eligibility with two remaining.

Max Duggan had statistically one of his best days, throwing for 323 yards and two touchdowns on 42 attempts. He added 75 yards on the ground, part of an excellent rushing attack that saw Anderson go for 87 yards on 19 carries and Olonilua add 63 on 11. Taye Barber was the star with career highs in catches (eight) and yards (137), including big play after big play, especially on third down. Jalen Reagor got involved as well, with three catches for 83 yards and a score. Credit also goes to John Stephens, Jr and Derius Davis, a pair of young receivers who have struggled in 2019, but combined for five catches and 60 total yards Saturday.

The Frogs had 549 yards of offense, but allowed over 400 to the Red Raiders — though they limited Tech’s rushing attack to a nice 69 yards. TCU ran nearly twice as many plays as their opponent — 95-51 — and showcased more innovation than we have seen much of this season. It was really fun early, really frightening in the middle, and a battle at the end. Just what you would expect from a rivalry where you have to truly expect the unexpected.

It was almost the worst loss of the season for the Horned Frogs, but it ends in a critical win. Next up, Oklahoma on the road. Hold on to your butts.