It lacked the high-flying offensive fireworks of a year ago, but TCU’s rematch with Texas Tech made up for it with big-time plays and all sorts of theatrics.
In front of 58,702 in attendance at AT&T Jones Stadium, Texas Tech swallowed hard after a go-ahead touchdown was called back, put it in the end zone again and held on for a 20-10 win Thursday night.
Tech quarterback Davis Webb, a freshman who replaced injured starter Baker Mayfield on the series before, connected with Bradley Marquez on a fade in the back of the end zone on third-and-13 for the score and a 17-10 lead with 4:08 remaining.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how he stepped up,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Webb. “He approached it the right way and was ready for that moment.”
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The score came moments after DeAndre Washington’s 49-yard scoring catch was nullified when replays showed Washington dropped the ball at the half-yard line. After a lengthy discussion and review, officials gave Tech the ball at the 15-yard after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on the Tech bench after his apparent touchdown.
No. 24 TCU wasn’t so lucky. Brandon Carter had two long punt returns in the second half called back, the second one erasing a 69-yard punt return for a game-tying score in the fourth quarter. Still, the Horned Frogs (1-2, 0-1 Big 12) rallied in the second half after falling behind 10-0 to tie it at 10-10 early in the fourth quarter and seemed to have all the momentum.
B.J. Catalon scored on a 17-yard run to cap a nine-play, 69-yard drive to tie the game at 10-10 with under seven minutes to play. But Tech’s 75-yard drive, which included Washington’s phantom score, put the Red Raiders (3-0, 1-0) back on top for good.
TCU’s offense, which struggled in the first half but came alive after halftime, was forced to punt back to Tech after failing to move the ball.
The Frogs’ offense couldn’t sustain a drive in the first half and finished three of 16 on third-down conversions. Although TCU outgained Texas Tech 401 to 336, penalties and some questionable calls haunted the Frogs for much of the night. TCU finished with 13 penalties for 115 yards. Tech wasn’t much better, finishing with 10 penalties for 89 yards.
“We had too many penalties,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “You can’t have that and win ballgames. It’s time for us to grow up.”
Costly penalties erased two big punt returns by Carter. His 59-yard return with a little over six minutes remaining in the third quarter would have given the Frogs’ offense the ball at the Tech 15. But a block in the back penalty brought it back 44 yards.
Carter’s 69-yard overturned touchdown a little later was even more discouraging. The officials said Carter gave an invalid fair catch signal, not only wiping away the score but also the big return. Instead of tying the game with over 11 minutes remaining, TCU took nearly five minutes off the clock with a nine-play drive capped by Catalon’s touchdown run. Catalon rushed three times for 34 yards on the drive. Waymon James had two carries for 10 yards. Boykin’s 22-yard pass to Cam White on third-and-8 kickstarted the scoring drive.
In the first half, however, Texas Tech needed no help from the officials. The Red Raiders took a quick 7-0 lead on the game’s first possession when the true freshman walk-on quarterback Mayfield connected with Kenny Williams for a 50-yard touchdown reception. Williams broke several tackles to sprint down the sidelines for much of the yardage.
Mayfield’s 31-yard pass to Jace Amaro set up a 39-yard field goal to give the Red Raiders a 10-0 lead with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
“We gave up two big plays,” Patterson said. “You can’t win ballgames doing that if you don’t tackle.”
TCU’s defense stepped up after allowing 150 yards in the first quarter. The Red Raiders were limited to 186 yards the rest of the game. TCU intercepted Mayfield three times, but the offense struggled to turn the turnovers into points. Mayfield was held to 3 of 12 passing for 11 yards in the second half befoe he left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
But TCU’s offense couldn’t overcome its own problems and still trailed 10-3 after kicker Jaden Oberkrom’s 37-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
Trevone Boykin threw two interceptions, including one late in the third quarter with TCU driving in Tech territory after Boykin’s 30-yard highlight-reel run to the 32. But moments later, with TCU at the Tech 28, defensive end and former Southlake Carroll star Jackson Richards stepped in front of Boykin’s short pass over the middle intended for Catalon and returned it 20 yards.
TCU has a bye next week. The Frogs host SMU (1-1) at Amon G. Carter Stadium for their final nonconference game Sept. 28 before resuming Big 12 play. The start time has yet to be determined.