Trevone Boykin scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 38 seconds remaining, as TCU rallied to defeat Iowa State 21-17 on Saturday afternoon in front of 54,922 at Jack Trice Stadium.
Trailing 17-14 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds remaining, the Horned Frogs drove 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown, a 1-yard keeper by Boykin.
Aaron Green kept the drive alive with a 22-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the Iowa State 49 and added a 17-yard carry later in the drive to set up the touchdown.
“My intentions were just to try to get 1 1/2 yards, just try to get the first down,” Green said of the fourth-down run. “That’s what you’re taught as a running back, on third-and-short, fourth-and-short, you go get that yard. I don’t know how I got 22 yards, but it just happened. It was a big hole up the middle.”
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Boykin said on one of the runs he was actually supposed to keep the ball instead of handing off to Green, who had 40 yards on the drive. Green finished with a career-high 72 yards on 19 carries. He and Jordan Moore took the bulk of the carries with both Waymon James (suspended) and B.J. Catalon (injured) not on the trip.
“He just made plays when we needed him,” Boykin said. “We were just clicking all of a sudden. We knew we needed to score and we needed points, so I was just willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
Another loss will prevent TCU (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) from earning a bowl berth for the first time since 2004. TCU is at Kansas State (5-4, 3-3) on Saturday and hosts sixth-ranked Baylor (8-0, 5-0) on Nov. 30.
“I’ve been saying this about our group, they haven’t quit all year,” coach Gary Patterson said of his team’s resiliency. “We’ve had a lot different kinds of things that have gone on and you’ve got to manage it. The normal person wouldn’t have any idea. That even says a lot for the resiliency of this football team that they’ve handled it all and done what they needed to do.”
The Cyclones (1-8, 0-6) started the second half with a bang. DeVondrick Nealy returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14. He broke several tackles on the return.
ISU drove 64 yards on 15 plays at the end of the third quarter to take its first lead of the game, 17-14, after a 36-yard field goal.
Meanwhile, TCU’s offense struggled to string drives together and punted for a season-high 11 times. And when the Frogs had success, turnovers again halted drives and prevented scores.
Casey Pachall was intercepted twice inside the ISU 25. The first came in the second quarter at the goal line. The second interception, which bounced off Brandon Carter into the arms of Jeremiah George, seemed to seal TCU’s fate with 5:18 remaining. Pachall had just led the Frogs to the ISU 22 on four plays, including a 30-yard pass to Carter from the TCU 1 and a 46-yard bomb to LaDarius Brown.
But the TCU defense forced a punt on the Cyclones’ possession and the Frogs got a break when All-America punter Kirby Van Der Kamp’s shanked punt gave TCU the ball at its 42 with 2:34 remaining.
“I think we’re fighters,” said safety Chris Hackett, who had 11 tackles and forced a fumble. “We haven’t stopped pushing yet.”
ISU’s attempt to score in the final 38 seconds fizzled near midfield.
TCU took a 7-0 lead after recovering a muffed ISU punt in the first quarter. Boykin scored on an 18-yard keeper.
A 25-yard reception on a fake punt kept an ISU drive alive in the second quarter. Sam Richardson rushed in from 15 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with 12:44 left in the first half.
The Frogs came right back on their ensuing possession. Pachall completed 4 of 5 passes on the drive, including a 33-yard strike to Carter to the ISU 3. The play was reviewed because Carter was forced out of bounds as he ran down the sidelines before the catch. The officials upheld the call on the field and the catch stood. Boykin, back in at quarterback for Pachall, rushed around the right side for a 3-yard score and a 14-7 lead.
TCU twice had great chances to add to its lead before the half but failed to put points on the board. A substitution penalty made a third-and-2 a third-and-7 from the Cyclones’ 37. Pachall’s pass was incomplete and TCU elected to punt instead of giving Jaden Oberkrom a chance at a 55-yard field-goal attempt.
“We never say die,” Green said. “When a season is going like this you have to self-motivate. It has to come from within, and that’s exactly where it came from. We were still excited, we still wanted to win, and that’s what we did. Nobody wants to go home in December.”