By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
ARLINGTON — TCU’s undefeated record is no more, after the Horned Frogs fell Saturday to Kansas State 31-28 in overtime at the Big 12 Championship.
TCU now awaits its fate, as the College Football Playoff committee gathers Sunday morning to determine who gets invited to the College Football Playoff.
The Frogs once again had to battle from behind against the Wildcats. TCU trailed Kansas State 28-17 with 7:55 left before a Griffin Kell 42-yard field goal cut the deficit to eight.
Following a defensive stop, Max Duggan turned in a Heisman-worthy performance. The senior quarterback rushed for 95 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run to bring TCU within two points with 1:51 remaining in the game.
Duggan then found tight end Jared Wiley open in the end zone for the 2-point conversion to forge a 28-28 tie.
TCU received the ball first in overtime, and looked like the Frogs had scored twice. First, Duggan scrambled down to the goal line on second-and-goal, extending the ball, but was ruled down inside the 1-yard line.
The Frogs then had two opportunities to get into the end zone from less than a yard out, and both times Kendre Miller got the call. Miller appeared to reach the ball over the goal line on the first rush, but officials marked him short and the play was not reviewed on the field.
On the second opportunity, which was fourth-and-goal, Miller was again stopped short.
After the game Greg Burks, the Big 12 coordinator of officials, issued a statement regarding TCU’s third-and-goal play.
“The play was reviewed,” Burks said.” Sky cam provided a shot of the ball being kicked out of the runner’s hand short of the goal line and recovered short of the goal line. By rule when replay confirms the ruling on the field we do not stop the game.”
The Frogs got on the board first, as Duggan mounted a 92-yard touchdown drive on their first possession of the game. The drive included a 53-yard pass and catch from Duggan to Quentin Johnston, a signal that the Frogs’ leading receiver was back to full health.
The drive ended with a pass from Duggan to Taye Barber, who caught the ball in the flat and ran it in from 3 yards out.
Kansas State knotted the game as time wound down in the first quarter, as Will Howard found Ben Sinnott from 6 yards out.
Kansas State took the lead minutes later, following a TCU punt. The Wildcats needed just 49 seconds to drive 59 yards, capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Howard.
A field goal in the waning minutes of the first half pulled the Frogs to within 14-10, where the score would stay at the break.
The Frogs received the ball after halftime, but couldn’t get much going. An official review saved the Frogs from a safety after Duggan rolled out of the pocket on third down and had the ball knocked out of his hands. After a review, the referee determined that Duggan’s hand was moving forward for an incomplete pass and TCU punted.
Kansas State struck again, extending its lead to 21-10 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
On TCU’s next possession the Frogs went three-and-out, but a muffed punt at the Kansas State 30 gave them new life. Three plays later, Miller bounced to the outside and strutted into the end zone for the score.
The touchdown was Miller’s 17th on the season and extended his streak of rushing touchdowns to 14 games, just one behind LaDainian Tomlinson’s school record.
A huge sack by Dee Winters on Kansas State’s next drive gave the Frogs a chance to take the lead, but the Frogs’ next drive ended with Duggan throwing an interception in the end zone.
Deuce Vaughn got loose soon after, running for a 44-yard touchdown to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 28-17.
TCU’s season isn’t over, and a red-eyed Duggan spoke to that following the game Saturday as TCU awaits their playoff fate.
“I think, if we got in, we would give one heck of a fight, and I think our competitiveness would take over,” Duggan said. “I don’t know. I wanted that one really bad.”
Jamie Plunkett, firstname.lastname@example.org