Desmon White had never returned a punt for a touchdown at TCU.
He had never thrown a touchdown pass at TCU.
He did both in his final game at TCU, and added a touchdown catch to boot.
The senior receiver from DeSoto returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give TCU its first lead in the Alamo Bowl en route to a 39-37 comeback victory against Stanford Thursday night, a rally that included his 11-yard touchdown throw to Kenny Hill.
“I don’t know, maybe I need some more passes to throw,” said the former DeSoto High School star quarterback.
For the second time in three seasons, the Horned Frogs (11-3) rallied from a big deficit to win the San Antonio bowl game. On Jan. 2, 2016, they came back from a 31-0 halftime deficit behind TCU folk legend Bram Kohlhausen.
“I was a former quarterback, so he knows I can throw,” White said of TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie. “Coach Cumbie does a great job of utilizing my abilities. I played receiver for four years. I just tried to come out and play my best game for the last time in a TCU uniform.”
The 15th-ranked (College Football Playoff) Frogs won 11 games for the second time in three seasons, finishing 11-3 and easing the memory of two losses to Big 12 champion Oklahoma, including in the league championship game.
Hill threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns, including a 93-yard strike to freshman receiver Jalen Reagor of Waxahachie, a play that tied for the fourth-longest score in TCU history.
Hill also ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass — the throw from White — in notching his second touchdown-triple of the season with a touchdown run, touchdown throw and touchdown catch. He is the only player in the country to do that even once this season.
“They better not say I’m not an athlete or something,” he said, asked what he would tell his kids about that distinction one day. “I’ll pull up the film and show them that I can play a little bit.”
White’s touchdown throw was his first pass as a college player. It went to Hill for an 11-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 21-16 in the third quarter.
White’s touchdown catch in the third quarter from Hill cut the lead to 28-23.
Jalen Reagor caught a 93-yard touchdown bomb in the fourth quarter, the longest scoring play in the Alamo Bowl’s 25 years and tied for the fourth-longest score in TCU history.
Cole Bunce’s 33-yard field goal with 3:07 left put TCU ahead 39-37.
“We need to start faster,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “If you want to win championships, whether it’s the Alamo Bowl or Oklahoma or anybody else you play, you can’t dig a hole for yourself against good football teams.”
Stanford led 37-36 on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s third touchdown catch, with 6:42 left in the game.
Two years ago, TCU trailed 31-0 at the half. This time, it was 21-10 following two Hill interceptions and nearly a third. It was still a formidable deficit, but manageable thanks to a second-quarter drive that ended with Hill’s 6-yard scramble for a touchdown.
“Really just came out and tried to do too much,” Hill said. “And then everybody kind of got on me a little bit, and we just all calmed down as a team and buckled down and got a win. That’s what we needed to do. It’s what these seniors wanted to do. We didn’t want to go out like how it was headed, so we had to turn it around.”
Stanford’s Whiteside caught two touchdown passes in the first half, giving the Cardinal a 21-3 lead.
Bryce Love’s 15-yard run opened the scoring for a 7-0 Stanford lead with 1:06 in the first quarter.
Reagor finished with 169 yards receiving, third-most in Alamo Bowl history.
“It feels really good,” Hill said. “In the first half, we didn’t play bad, just not how we needed to play. To come back and win with this group of guys, who accepted me the minute I came in, it feels great. It means everything to me.”
Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez
STA—Love 15 run (Toner kick), 8:42
TCU—FG Bunce 38, 6:01
STA—Arcega-Whiteside 18 pass from Costello (Toner kick), 1:51
STA—Arcega-Whiteside 14 pass from Costello (Toner kick), 7:24
TCU—Hill 6 run (Bunce kick), 3:06
TCU—Hill 27 pass from D.White (kick failed), 11:11
STA—Love 69 run (Toner kick), 9:01
TCU—D.White 11 pass from Hill (Bunce kick), 5:51
STA—FG Toner 27, 2:09
TCU—Reagor 93 pass from Hill (pass failed), 14:34
TCU—D.White 76 punt return (Bunce kick), 11:49
STA—Arcega-Whiteside 4 pass from Costello (pass failed), 6:42
TCU—FG Bunce 33, 3:07
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Stanford, Love 26-145, Speights 2-15, Scarlett 5-4, Hall 0-0, Costello 1-(minus 7). TCU, Hill 9-60, Olonilua 5-58, Hicks 6-40, Snell 1-4, Nunez 1-1, Turpin 1-(minus 7), (Team) 3-(minus 9).
PASSING—Stanford, Costello 15-27-2-212. TCU, D.White 1-1-0-27, Hill 27-40-2-314.
RECEIVING—Stanford, Arcega-Whiteside 5-61, Wedington 3-41, Irwin 3-17, Scarlett 2-85, Schultz 2-8. TCU, Hicks 8-25, Reagor 5-169, Olonilua 4-31, D.White 3-33, Turpin 3-12, Diarse 2-32, Hill 1-27, J.Stewart 1-12, Snell 1-0.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Stanford, Toner 52.