Cordel Iwuagwu just shook his head. There’s no reason why TCU shouldn’t have scored with a first and goal from the 1 in the third overtime against Baylor.
“We have to do better,” said Iwuagwu, the left guard. “We were at the 1? We have to get that. We do. Ain’t no excuses. We’ve got to get that.”
Instead, TCU ran four plays that netted negative yardage, and Baylor escaped with a 29-23 triple-overtime victory Saturday afternoon at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Baylor (9-0) kept its perfect season alive for another week, winning its fourth game decided by one score, while TCU (4-5) is now 0-4 in one-score games this year.
“I feel like we’re really close,” Iwuagwu said. “I feel like we just have to take that one little step. It’s like, we keep hesitating to take that step every time we get really close. It’s really weird, but I feel like we can do it.”
TCU has only itself to blame for now. It simply couldn’t close out a game late.
Baylor matched TCU’s touchdown in the second overtime when it scored on a fourth-down play, and then the Bears’ defense made a stand when it mattered most.
Baylor took a 29-23 lead when it scored to open the third overtime but failed to convert the two-point conversion. That gave TCU a chance to tie, and possibly win.
Frogs freshman quarterback Max Duggan, playing through an injured middle finger on his right (throwing) hand, made a terrific run on third and 5 from the Baylor 20. It appeared Duggan scored on the play, side-stepping his way into the end zone.
But the replay booth determined Duggan stepped out at the 3. Two plays later, though, TCU appeared to catch a break when a Baylor facemask penalty gave it a first and goal from the 1.
But TCU unraveled. Frogs senior running back Sewo Olonilua lost 3 yards on first down. Duggan threw an incomplete pass intended for Jalen Reagor on second down. A holding call on right tackle David Bolisomi on third down pushed TCU back 10 yards.
Head coach Gary Patterson didn’t seem too pleased with the penalty afterward.
“I’m interested to see the holding call, to be honest with you,” Patterson said. “You’re in overtime, you’re at the 8-yard line. I’m really interested to see the holding call.”
Duggan rushed for one yard on the third and goal from the 14, then threw an interception on fourth down to end the game.
Asked about that series, Patterson said: “Yeah, we got beat. Our kids fought. It’s a good football team they fought.”
Patterson fielded another question about why Duggan didn’t take a direct snap under center in that situation, especially with a first and goal from the 1.
“I don’t know,” Patterson said. “Without looking at it, without talking about it. I don’t know if it would have been much difference. Even on the zone play, the front went backwards. It doesn’t matter whether you quarterback sneak or not, it still went backwards.”
At the end of the day, it became a frustrating loss for the Frogs. This is a game they could have won, jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first half and holding Baylor’s offense to less than 300 total yards.
Patterson is now 101-11 when holding an opponent to less than 300 yards. He felt that would be 102-10 in triple overtime.
“We just went toe to toe with the 12th-best team in the nation,” Patterson said. “I thought once we stopped them on the two-point, I thought we’d win. I thought we’d go in and do it.
“This is probably the most disappointed I’ve ever been, but I’m also real proud of our kids because it hurts more when you go through that, you have a ballgame like this. They have three games left. They’ve got to win two out of three if they want to become bowl eligible. It’s simple.”
Both teams scored three field goals in regulation. All of TCU’s came in the first half; all of Baylor’s came in the second half, including a game-tying 51-yarder by John Mayers with 36 seconds left.
TCU had the ball on the 25 and all three timeouts left with 36 seconds left, but the Frogs opted to play for overtime.
“You throw a pick, you get beat,” Patterson said. “You’re on your own 25-yard line. That’s not smart football, to be honest with you. You’ve held them to nine points. Why wouldn’t you think that you could hold them again? I mean, I hear the boos.
“Everybody needs to come down. They can come down and have my job. I mean, bottom line to it, you turn the ball over after they just barely made a field goal to tie it up to possibly go in overtime. You want me to start throwing vertical routes down the field? That’s not smart football. I don’t care what anybody says.”
The Frogs and Bears both answered touchdowns in similar fashion in the first two overtimes, scoring on fourth-down plays.
In the first overtime, TCU receiver Te’Vailance Hunt made a spectacular play to haul in the pass from Duggan and get a hand in bounds. A replay review overturned the initial call of an incomplete pass.
“Awesome,” Patterson said. “I’ll tell you this much, I couldn’t have made that catch. I know some of you guys are kind of surprised by that.”
Baylor had similar theatrics in double overtime after TCU scored a go-ahead TD. On a fourth and 5 from the 20, Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer found Denzel Mims for a TD.
Brewer and Mims connected for another TD to start the third overtime, which proved to be the difference. TCU hoped the failed two-point conversion would be the different, but that stop went for naught.
“We battled. It’s a disappointment, but everything is a lesson,” senior cornerback Jeff Gladney said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. Everything good and bad are all lessons in this game.”