On the final play of the first half, Kenny Hill launched a 38-yard Hail Mary into the end zone with enough precision to reach a leaping Jalen Reagor, giving TCU the lead for good and paving the way to a 56-36 victory Saturday over SMU.
Early in the second quarter, the Mustangs (2-1) had captured a 19-7 lead in a scoring run that began with a trick play resulting in a 38-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Trey Quinn.
Horned Frogs running back Darius Anderson said that the halftime-closing catch was the inspiration the team needed to execute in the second half.
“That big play helped the team. Everybody picked their heads up,” Anderson said.
Frogs safety Nick Orr said the catch was a surprising shift for the entire team, even watching from the sidelines.
“It got us going too, it got the whole team going” Orr said. “I just saw him go up and catch it (then) ran and celebrated.”
Reagor jumped virtually uncontested to catch the ball as five SMU defenders stood just inches away, looking up, a reaction that shocked the veteran Hill.
“That was new to me,” Hill said about the SMU players’ reaction. “I have never seen that happen in a game that I have been in.”
Coach Gary Patterson said that the catch did not come as a surprise and that Reagor was placed strategically to make the leap.
“Obviously, we put it in so that he could jump up there,” Patterson said. “We already knew that he could do it.”
Hill said the play had been rehearsed many times in practice and that Reagor had insisted that the ball come to him.
“We do late-game situations like that every Friday,” Hill said. “That was the first time I have ever been in a game and seen a Hail Mary completed.”
The Frogs (3-0) went on to score four touchdowns in the second half.