By Will Martin
To all the so-called naysayers who were so quick to anoint the Baylor Bears into the BCS title game, guaranteed, a done deal, not even worth the time to waste at a meaningless game that played out in Ft. Worth, Texas on Saturday I have one word for you.
One of the wildest finishes in the Iron Bowl I have ever witnessed. On Bo Jackson’s birthday no less!
The War Eagle now rides high into a showdown with Missouri next week. Anybody see that coming?
Over a month ago when eyeing this matchup at Amon Carter Stadium between the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs I publicly said that TCU could defeat the Bears on Senior Day before a packed house if they played to perfection and Casey Pachall could avoid the interception bug.
A few so-called ‘experts’ chose to call me out, call me out of my mind, out of my league, that Baylor would wipe the TCU floor green with a Sic Sic result.
Oh, really? Consider me vindicated (Lighting a cigar).
Before continuing I’d like to remind the Horned Frog nation about the #1 mantra, the #1 reason that has been the story of the 2013 TCU Horned Frogs season.
What Jason Verrett said one month ago has been the downfall of TCU all season. Not closing games out, always coming up a little short, offensive mishaps where the game wouldn’t awaken until late, defense keeping you in each game, finding ways to lose at crunch time, and doing so.
Congratulations are in order for Baylor winning on the road November 30th 41-38. It wasn’t until the final half minute of play before the game was decided on an interception, sadly Casey Pachall threw three interceptions that proved to be the undoing for the Horned Frogs on Senior Day in Ft. Worth.
“I made quite a few mistakes that cost us the ball game,” Pachall told the media after the game. “I gave them 14 points, just handed it over on a platter.”
“They weren’t a better team than us,” Pachall continued. “Hands down, we kicked their ass on the field, there’s no doubt about.”
Senior Day in any sport is an emotional day for those players who move on from college while acknowledging the collegiate journey in the classroom and on the field. Add to that the sobering news about Art Briles losing his son Eddie earlier in the week from a fall. A case could be made about not having a Baylor team totally ready.
Early on it was TCU riding high with a 17-13 lead before a reverse led to a loss of 21 yards before BJ Catalon fumbled the ball away. This led to 21 straight points by the Bears and a 34-17 lead.
With both running backs Glasco Martin and Lache Seastrunk available to play Baylor ran 40 plays in the first period. Only 50 plays the rest of the way. TCU held the Bears to 370 yards-201 of that in that first period!
Take away two interceptions run back for touchdowns by Baylor and chances are this game is the #2 highlight of the day after the Iron Bowl battle.
Lache Seastrunk rushed for 92 yards in the first half, held to only two in the second half.
“We couldn’t ever maintain any continuity,” said Baylor coach Art Briles. “Some of that’s got to do with TCU.”
Casey Pachall went 20 for 45 for 267 yards despite three interceptions. Pachall brought the Frogs to 34-31 on a scoring strike to Josh Doctson and a 4-yard keeper. TCU’s defense stopped four drives in the 4th quarter as TCU drove all the way to the Baylor 23 before a pass intended for Brandon Carter was tipped by Sam Holl and picked off by Terrell Burt in a 41-38 defeat.
We saw this with West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and now Baylor. Always in the game but coming up a bit short.
TCU outgained Baylor in many categories including total yards (410-370), passing yards (267-206), even kickoff return yardage (152-69) even penalties (3 for 10 yards versus 15 for 140). BJ Catalon with 93 yards on 11 carries, 1 for 47 yards.
In the end the Frogs came up just a little short as TCU ends their season 4-8, 2-7 in the Big 12 while Baylor improved to 10-1, 7-1 in the Big 12.
Before a sellout crowd of 43,568 Baylor started the scoring with an Aaron Jones 30-yard field goal at 10:27. Jaden Oberkrom returned the volley on a 26-yarder after a seven play 66 yard drive at 7:26. Baylor increased the lead to 10-3 at 4:18 on an 18 yard scoring pass to Clay Fuler from Bryce Petty.
The Bears increased their lead to 13-3 five seconds into the second period before TCU awakened and served notice that Senior Day was going to be a war as TCU commenced a 9 play 63 yard drive that ended with a Jordan Moore 1-yard plunge at 11:02.
Five minutes later at 6:18 LaDaruis Brown would put the Frogs ahead 17-13 on a 21 yard strike from Trevone Boykin. A costly turnover on the TCU gave Baylor an easy score and 20-17 lead at 3:47 when Bryce Petty scampered in on a 1-yard drive.
Casey Pachall and the Frogs were driving deep into Bears territory when Orion Stewart picked off a Pachall pass and ran it back 82 yards right before halftime for a 27-17 halftime lead for the Bears.
118 seconds into the second half Casey Pachall would throw the second of three interceptions that Eddie Lackey ran back for 54 yards and another touchdown and a 34-17 lead.
TCU then went to work on a 7 play 77 yard drive that resulted in a 4 yard QB keeper for Pachall at 9:50 for a 34-24 deficit. The lead lessened to 34-31 at 4:40 when Casey Pachall found Josh Doctson for a 16-yard touchdown and a 34-31 Baylor lead.
Although the TCU defense stiffened somewhat in the second half Baylor had one more answer to the Senior Frogs when Bryce Petty found Levi Norwood on a 33-yard connection capping a seven play, seventy yard drive and a 41-31 lead at 2:25 of the 3rd period.
David Porter would complete the afternoon in scoring seven seconds into the last quarter when seizing a 22-yard pass from Casey Pachall to reduce the deficit to 41-38. Four defensive stops by TCU’s defense headed by Jason Verrett in that final period. TCU was unable to muster any drives until the final two minutes when TCU drove all the way to the Baylor 23. Casey Pachall’s final collegiate throw was an interception. Perhaps hindsight says you try for the field goal. TCU went for the win.
And just like their season, came up just a bit short.
Gary Patterson also in agreement.
“This sums it up. Could have kicked a field goal, but we wanted to take one shot to win it. Wouldn’t do it any other way. The ball bounces one way, and the game is over. That pretty much sums it up. Kids fought their tails off, and you can blame me. Like I told them downstairs, 53 guys playing right now, and we took a top 10 program and should have beat them. Everything went wrong, and we should have beat them. Give credit to Baylor, but bottom line is we should have beat them. You don’t hear me say things like that very often. I told them there was nothing to be ashamed about in our locker room. Seven seniors leaving, and they could have quit down 17 in the third quarter, but we didn’t. Last five minutes we couldn’t move the ball, got them stopped and had a chance. That’s all you want. Didn’t do us any good. That was our bowl game.”
Coach Patterson also addressed trying to keep up with Baylor after falling behind.
“Number one, we didn’t handle the speed. Guys moved around, and they do well at what they do. They’re quick and they have good players. (Antwan) Goodley had one catch against Jason Verrett. They tried flipping him to the other side of the field, and for a team that doesn’t have many players, I don’t know why you have to worry about that.”
Defensive End Jon Koontz had some thoughts about his final game.
“It was senior night and that had me fired up. It was my last chance to play as a Horned Frog and maybe play football. The crowd was unbelievable. I thought for a team with only four wins and it being Thanksgiving, it would be tough but the support we had was great. They really rallied around this team.”
“I’m really proud. I think they had two offensive touchdowns outside of the one they started on the one yard line, so I don’t think we could have done a whole lot better as a defense. Certainly there were mistakes we made here and there. They did sustain some drives on us, but they were a high powered offense and we knew they were going to do that going into the game.”
Art Briles had some post game thoughts and praise for the TCU defense.
“It’s possibly the biggest win that we’ve experienced – one of the biggest – since we’ve been at Baylor the last six years. Tonight with this atmosphere and with them having two weeks to prepare and us coming off the road again last week. Being on the road for three weeks in a row and I’m not sure that has happened to any other team in the United States this year. It’s a big testament to our football team, our players, their resolve and their toughness, their character and their belief. That’s what it kind of came down to at the end.”
“I think it was just phenomenal, quite honestly. We felt like TCU has played the best they played all year. Pachall got hurt early and he missed six weeks in there. He came back three weeks ago and they went up and beat Iowa State at Iowa State, which is a tough place to win. They go to Kansas State two weeks ago and get beat on a last second field goal. They have always been good on defense. They have always done a good job defensively and they got a lot on offense. We knew we’d catch them after being on the road for two weeks, coming back here for their senior night and our guys overcame it.”
Spot on Coach Briles. Four losses by four points or less, two losses by ten points. A season of ‘what if’. To best surmise what will Gary Patteron’s first losing season since 2004 the 2013 epitaph shall read, ‘ Close, but just a bit short.’
Best wishes to the Frogs seniors who go onward and upward in life.