Kansas State has made their bread in 2020 off of the long play.
TCU has nightmares about giving them up.
That made for an interesting start to this meeting of purple powerhouses; with Will Howard at the helm, the Cats relied on explosive plays in the first quarter, primarily off of the legs of a QB not know for his running ability.
Howard’s 80 yard rush on third seven from deep in K State territory led to the first points of the game, as the Cats turned in into three. The Frogs answered on the ensuing drive, as Blair Conwright caught a tipped ball on third and long for a first down and another pass on third and one to set up a seven yard Darwin Barlow touchdown run.
Ar’Darius Washington got chased late in the first quarter on a targeting call against Deuce Vaughn, eliminating one of the more anticipated matchups of the game. The penalty extended a Kansas State drive that ended in a long field goal, with Howard using his legs once again to get his team into scoring position.
While Vaughn was the player to watch coming into Saturday, the Frogs did a good job limiting the Cats’ star in the first half. But Chris Klieman wisely employed the legs of his true freshman QB, catching the Frogs off-guard it seemed.
The Frogs could not get anything going on offense in the second quarter; despite its early season troubles, the Kansas State defense showed up Saturday in Fort Worth, limiting what had been a very potent TCU O to next to nothing through two quarters of play. Thankfully for the Frogs, the Cats didn’t do much either; despite his success on the ground, Howard had a half to forget heading into his team’s final drive of the first two quarters. Just 2-10 for 45 yards before the last drive of the half, Howard missed wide open receivers as he struggled with his accuracy. But he found Deuce Vaughn for 45 yards late in the second quarter, and then Briley Moore for 24 more to set up first and goal from the four. Howard took it himself from there, finding pay dirt on the keeper and giving the Cats a 14-7 lead after they converted a two point conversion.
Duggan looked sharp on the ensuing drive, despite having next to no time in the dog. Dodging pressure and stepping into the pocket, he found Foster for a check-down before connecting with Conwright, Foster, and Spielman for back-to back-to-back big plays. After a short completion to Te’vailance Hunt, Duggan was sacked on an all-out blitz, setting up 3rd and long. Duggan was chased from the pocket once again, and absorbed a huge hit on the keeper. Slow to get up, he ambled off the field as the Frogs were forced to settle for a long field goal attempt.
It was blocked.
The Wildcats finished the first half with 220 yards — 80 of them coming on a single play. The Frogs had just 179. Duggan was 8-12 for 106, Howard 4-12 for 85. Neither offense looked sharp through two quarters of play.
Defensively, the Frogs were snake bit once again by the big play; Kansas State had gains of 80, 45, and 24 yards on eventual scoring drives. Meanwhile, the Frogs had just two of the explosive play variety — a 15 yard completion JD Spielman and a 24 yard rush by Darwin Barlow. Garret Wallow leads all players with seven tackles through two quarters and Lakendrick Van Zandt had two PBUs. Blair Conwright leads the receivers with four catches for 50 yards.
The second half is on deck — can the Frogs fight back and earn a win that could earn them a ranking?