If you’re a Frog follower, you know the purple and white aren’t having their best season. Unbeaten Baylor’s visit to Hell’s Half Acre provided a chance to find redemption during what an athletic director would describe as a “growing season.” Records aside, when the Holy War commences, it’s going to be hard-fought regardless of how good either team has been. Saturday was no exception.
Front Frog Gary Patterson and Bear in Charge Matt Rhule concocted as much excitement as a game with six combined field goals could offer. The two best defensive units in the Big 12 jockeyed for field position. Patterson’s secondary is decaying from thin to translucent while safety Innis Gaines (No. 6) is injured, but sure tackling and acrobatic pass defending kept the Bears from scoring at all during the first half. Previously sure-handed purple tight end Pro Wells (No. 81) dropped a gorgeous pass from quarterback Max Duggan (No. 15) in the first series of the game that would have been an easy touchdown. TCU settled for three points, as they did twice more before halftime. Baylor, who has played better second-half football this year, matched the effort in the 30 minutes afterward with three kicks of their own, including a 51-yard career long for John Mayers (No. 95) with 36 seconds remaining in regulation. Overtime was a bad omen for TCU, who had already benefited from several Baylor miscues.
You’d have to rewind through nine years of game film to find another Big 12 match-up without a touchdown during regulation. In overtime, seven points quickly became the standard. Bear quarterback Charlie Brewer (No. 12) used his lanky receivers and scrambling ability to find the end zone first. Duggan and company looked as if they would go three-and-out before a fourth down prayer to sophomore Te’Vailance Hunt (No. 9) was answered. The receiver soared above defenders and grasped the ball while tumbling out of bounds for a called incompletion. The game seemed over until instant replay revealed Hunt’s extended hand smacking green turf before the rest of his body landed on a white boundary marker. Not unlike Lazarus, hopes for Frog nation rose from the dead. This zombified offense marched out for five consecutive rushes capped off with a Sewo Olonilua (No. 33) bulldoze for paydirt and their first overtime lead. Olonilua led the offensive attack throughout this slugfest, making the Bear secondary’s tackling look worse than their university’s public relations presence. Sadly, it was for naught. Brewer found his rhythm and connected repeatedly with the towering 6-foot-3 senior Denzel Mims (No. 5). They hooked up for touchdowns on the next two drives, including a 20-yard snag to extend the game while Baylor faced fourth down and five yards to go. Duggan never quit and added to his highlight reel with another incredible scramble while tight-roping the sideline with such grace that Barnum & Bailey would be proud. Initially ruled a touchdown, his fancy footwork was reviewed and called back to the three-yard line despite no conclusive video evidence showing he had stepped out. Two running plays yielded no yards, but a facemask penalty against Baylor delivered TCU within a yard of the goal line and four downs to get in. They couldn’t. That, in a nutshell, is why Frog Offensive Coordinator Sonny Cumbie is not long for this team. Four plays to gain one yard to continue a game against your rival and no success. It was a fantastic and gut-wrenching thing to behold, the D’s best performance of the season squandered by an offense that doesn’t have a play to gain one yard. The Frogs fell to the Bears for the first time in five seasons, 23-29 in triple overtime.
Duggan completed less than half of his passes while throwing three interceptions. Neither team moved the ball well –– approximately 300 yards gained by each offense — but the Wacoites made plays when it mattered. The purple receiving corps at large was terrible in this game, dropping Duggan passes too often to sustain scoring drives. Jalen Reagor (No. 1) — once thought to be an elite receiver — has revealed himself to be a superior athlete but average pass catcher. Patterson’s reeling Frogs have three games remaining and need to win two of them to play extra football during bowl season. Purple nation travels the long and dusty road to Lubbock this week for another brunch-time match-up. It’s a battle of 4-5 squads. Both lost in overtime against the Bears. The offense should seem improved against a Red Raiders squad not known for defense. Raider QB Jett Duffey (No. 7) is a true gunslinger with a popgun arm and elusive running ability but prone to mistakes. Cumbie should be satisfied to run the ball to keep him off the field and hope Patterson’s D can bail him out again.