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TCU 38, Kansas 31: Have a Day, QJ

Horned Frogs remain undefeated, riding Quentin Johnston’s career day to victory under the national spotlight in Lawrence

TCU v Kansas
Quentin Johnston makes the spectacular game-winning catch, capping off a career performance
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

In a packed and raucous Booth Memorial Stadium following the on-site broadcast of College GameDay, it was a physical fight between Top 20 squads that proved to be deserving of the spotlight. The national game of the week lived up to the billing on Saturday as the #17 TCU Horned Frogs emerged victorious from the back-and-forth battle with the #19 Kansas Jayhawks.

The game was a slow build, as the first four drives for each team produced a combined four punts, two turnovers on downs, a fumble, and a Griffin Kell field goal providing the lone over the opening 26 minutes of game time. The defenses certainly won the first quarter, as TCU put up 97 total yards and Kansas was held to just 24. The offenses settled in a bit in the 2nd quarter, as the Jayhawks drove inside the five, but Jalon Daniels fumbled during his attempt to reach across the goal line, recovered by Shadrach Banks.

It was a massive moment in the game, as Kansas was about to take the lead; instead giving Max Duggan the ball with his back against the wall, a position he’s more than comfortable overcoming. Duggan promptly marched the Frogs 99 yards, with three completions to Quentin Johnston, a 15-yard run of his own down to the 1-yard line, with Kendre Miller punching it in. Kansas would take a drive into the red zone that would produce a field goal after a Jamoi Hodge sack. The sack would be Kansas starting QB Jalon Daniels’ last play, leaving the game with a shoulder injury. The first half ended with a thud as Max Duggan’s deep bomb to QJ was caught by the KU defender for Duggan’s first turnover of the season.

The Jayhawk offense didn’t miss a beat with backup Jason Bean filling in for Daniels, on the contrary, it exploded in the 2nd Half. Bean finished with a final stat line of 16-24 for 262 yards and 4 TDs, plus 34 yards rushing in just a half of work, as he had the TCU defense befuddled over the game’s final 30 minutes. Two of those four Bean TDs were, to put it mildly, questionable. To be fair, they were incredible plays from the Jayhawk receivers, but the officiating crew granted receptions on each despite 1) the ball being bobbled and hitting the ground and 2) the player landing out of bounds. If either had been ruled incomplete on the field they certainly would not have been overturned via replay. Even with those gifted scores, TCU kept swinging right back.

Kansas took the lead 17-10 halfway through the 3rd Quarter when Bean found a wide open Luke Grimm in the endzone, but the Frogs leveled the score as it was another week with Derius Davis doing something insane, taking a Duggan pass, hugging the sideline, and outrunning the KU secondary:

That was followed by a Kansas drive where perhaps Beans flaws showed, as he misfired on an option pitch that the Jayhawks recovered for a loss of 12 with the next play being a pass directly to TCU LB Jamoi Hodge, who finished with 7 tackles and a sack in addition to the pick, giving TCU the ball deep in scoring territory. After a few strong Kendre Miller runs, Max Duggan took a QB Draw the final 3 yards for the TD,

Kansas tied it up on one of those specious TDs, but no matter, Max Duggan was dealing. He found Taye Barber for one of the most impressive throw-and-catch plays you’ll ever least for another quarter. Duggan threads it just over two defenders for a leaping Barber who secures the catch and gets two feet in to give the Frogs the lead again.

Midway through the 4th quarter, with the Frogs up a TD, the TCU Defense held Kansas to a FG attempt that was missed wide. With a chance to go put the game out of reach, the TCU offensive play calling became slow and conservative, for a quick three-and-out. As it tends to go, that short ineffective offensive outing turned into an immediate 4-play 71 yard drive culminating in a TD “catch” that Bean dropped perfectly to his receiver.

Tie game, under 5 minutes to play, on the road, Top 20 opponent. The moment that kids dream up on the playground, a spot where a weak-willed QB may shrink. Max Duggan most certainly did not shrink, and his legendary season only continues to grow. He leads the team on the go-ahead drive, culminating in a dime to QJ that Johnston hauls in to give the Frogs the lead.

Kansas had one last gasp in the final minute, driving into TCU territory, eventually stalling out with a turnover on downs, allowing Duggan to close out the game out of the victory formation.

Duggan continued his standout season, with his fourth consecutive game with 3+ TDs, as he finished 23-33 for 308 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, adding 9 carries for 55 rushing yards and a TD on the ground. After a somewhat dormant start to the season, the breakout star of the day was Quentin Johnston, who put up a career-best 14 receptions for 206 yards and the game-winning score. It also cannot be ignored that Kendre Miller had another workhorse game taking 18 carries for 88 yards and a TD.

Kansas drops to 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Big 12 with a road trip to Norman to take on the downtrodden Sooners next week. TCU improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in conference play. Next up for the Frogs is another massive showdown, with undefeated Oklahoma State visiting Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday at 2:30 PM, televised on ABC.