Eventually, there was a price to pay for TCU’s stumbling start.
The interception that went for an Arkansas touchdown. The fumble inside the 10-yard line. The penalties. And more penalties. And, eventually, the final-seconds field goal that was blocked.
Eventually, when the bill arrived in the second overtime Saturday night, the Horned Frogs paid for their malfeasances.
“Too many mistakes,” coach Gary Patterson said after the Frogs lost to the Hogs 41-38 in double overtime.
“I’ve got to give Arkansas a lot of credit, but we made too many little mistakes, like the celebration after the touchdown. Too many little mistakes.”
The Frogs spotted their former Southwest Conference cousins 13 points in the first half and rebounded impressively. But with the score knotted 28-all in the final 63 seconds, TCU was able to move the ball to the Arkansas 11-yard line with a chance to win.
A memorable victory was in the Frogs’ hands — and Ryan Graf’s right foot — after the night’s long uphill struggle. But somehow the Razorbacks’ 6-10 Dan Skipper was able to block Graf’s 28-yard field goal try and help send the game into overtime.
It seemed like a tired TCU defense that took the field in the extra periods, but Patterson said otherwise. The Hogs had a distinct edge in time of possession through most of the first half of the game.
“No,” Patterson said, when asked if fatigue played a role in his defense giving up two touchdowns in the overtime.
“I even knew what the last play was going to be. I was slanting that way. We hit him at the 4, 5-yard line, we just didn’t tackle him.”
Missed tackles, a problem in the opener against South Dakota State, were again an issue for TCU. Again, there were breakdowns in the pass coverage.
But the problems were inconsistency as much as anything, because Patterson’s defense seemed to find its footing after the first half and was playing well enough into the final minutes to claim the lead.
As Patterson said, though, “Good players make good plays, great players make great plays and bad players make bad plays. We’ve got to have good and great. We’ve got to tackle better.”
In the end, the Frogs were flagged nine times for 95 yards, and the two turnovers directly swung the score by 14 points.
TCU’s offense, after a sputtering start, managed to gain 572 yards, 377 of them through the air. Kenny Hill, too, was the victim of an inconsistent start, but performed well throughout the second half. He ran for 93 net yards and scored two touchdowns himself.
Hill appeared to have thrown for the winning touchdown with 44 seconds remaining in regulation, but the officials ruled that receiver Emanuel Porter had stepped out of bounds before the catch.
It was that kind of night for the Frogs, who saw their 14-game home winning streak — third-longest in the nation — end.
“When you feel like you had opportunities to win,” Patterson said, “you feel like you gave one away. They’re going to be upset when they watch the film.”
Eventually, the mistakes all came home to roost. The penalties. The turnovers. The blocked field goal.
What could have been a classic, memorable night at Amon G. Carter Stadium between two old rivals instead will likely be remembered as one of the toughest losses of Patterson’s tenure.
When the bill came for the Frogs, it hurt.