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Football: TCU falters late in 24-21 loss against West Virginia

The Horned Frogs continued to leave points on the board as their three-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Christian Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The TCU offense had no answers for a stout West Virginia defense during the second half of Saturday evening’s Big 12 Conference matchup. Despite accumulating over 300 total yards and holding a 21-14 lead over the Mountaineers after two quarters, West Virginia dominated the third quarter, limiting TCU to only one yard as the Mountaineers eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs had a chance to tie the score in the final minutes, but the second of two blocked field goals by the West Virginia special teams resulted in a 24-21 loss for TCU. The Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) will play at Iowa State next Saturday.

TCU started the game strong, with the defense forcing West Virginia off the field before Chandler Morris fired a strike to wide receiver JP Richardson on the slant route for a 59-yard touchdown. Morris threw for over 200 yards in the first half and added over 50 rushing yards including a 31-yard rushing touchdown early in the second quarter that gave the Horned Frogs a 14-7 lead. Despite completing less than 48 percent of his passes in the game, West Virginia’s Garrett Greene also made plays with his legs, breaking contain for a 35-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter to spark the Mountaineer offense.

TCU had chances to extend its lead throughout the first half, but the Horned Frogs once again struggled to finish drives with points in the red zone. The West Virginia defense came up with a stop on a fourth-and-1 run play during the second quarter, stuffing Emani Bailey for no gain. The Mountaineers also forced TCU into a long field goal in the opening quarter, which Griffin Kell missed to the left. Kell was 0-for-3 on field-goal attempts with two kicks blocked, while Bailey was bottled up by the West Virginia defense, rushing for only 55 yards on 19 carries (2.9 yards per carry). With the game tied 14-14 after a short touchdown run from CJ Donaldson, TCU regained control before the half, scoring on a fourth-down pass play that saw Morris evade pressure and fire a 36-yard strike to wide receiver Dylan Wright.

The Horned Frogs received the second-half kickoff, but the TCU offense struggled mightily over the third and fourth quarters, with West Virginia forcing three consecutive punts and gaining prime field position as a result. The Mountaineers tied the score on a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter from Greene, who had 80 rushing yards on 12 carries in the game. The TCU defense battled throughout the second half, with the Horned Frogs doing well to contain Donaldson, who ended the game with only 61 rushing yards on 22 carries. Jamoi Hodge had 10 total tackles for the TCU defense, while fellow linebacker Shad Banks added nine total tackles and safety Josh Foster stepped up with six total tackles. Banks started in place of Johnny Hodges, who missed his second straight game with an injury.

TCU also emerged with a huge fourth-and-goal stop in the fourth quarter, stuffing the West Virginia offense at the 1-yard line to retake possession. But TCU was forced to punt again after one first down gained and West Virginia capitalized on great field position, converting a 49-yard field goal to take a 24-21 lead. TCU’s final two drives each resulted in blocked field-goal attempts, with one coming from 46 yards while another came from 55 yards. While Morris struggled in the second half, the redshirt sophomore finished the game with 298 passing yards and 51 rushing yards with zero turnovers. Richardson led the receiving corps with 87 yards on three catches, while Savion Williams had 59 yards on four grabs. Wright added 60 yards on three catches and Bailey caught four balls for 25 yards.