Kell lifts TCU over Kansas 31-28

Photos by Dominic Ceraldi

Griffin Kell kicked a 25-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to give TCU a 31-28 victory over Kansas. We could sit here and lament how close it was, but that’s unnecessary in a season like this. TCU won, and maintained the possibility of bowl eligibility heading into the final week of the regular season.

While fans might have been holding their breath while Kell kicked it, though, Interim head coach Jerry Kill had other things on his mind.

“I felt like he was going to get it,” Kill said after the game. “I was more worried about giving them any time. You know we milked that clock as hard as we could. We got the ball in the middle of the field where he wanted it. Protection was good, kick was good, and we milked it down to seven seconds – was it seven or six – whatever it was.”

The ensuing kickoff saw Kansas try to pull off some lateral magic, but as Kill said afterward, “We didn’t have the band on the field, so we were in good shape. “

While the final score was in good shape, several injured Frogs were asked to give it there everything on Saturday, including Max Duggan and Kendre Miller.

Duggan struggled at times, throwing an interception in the end zone and missing a few open receivers. That being said, the junior was tough as he’s always been, rushing for 74 yards on a broken foot and converting a 4th and goal attempt from the one yard line by running over a defender on his way to the end zone.

“Max Duggan is the toughest quarterback, one of the toughest people, you’ll ever see play this game. Period.” Kill told media, continuing “If we don’t have him we don’t win. Period.”

When asked if there was any chance of kicking a field goal at that crucial juncture in the game, Kill responded, “We were going. Why lay up?”

Derius Davis had a huge game for the Frogs, totaling 155 yards of offense and a touchdown, as he was the guy Duggan looked to consistently throughout the game, especially on third down.

What made it even more impressive is that Davis bounced back after fumbling a punt in the first quarter.

When I really make a mistake, it really doesn’t affect me. Davis said, “I just go out there and play the next play.”

Minutes after the fumble Davis had a chance to do just that, taking a jet sweep and scampering 43 yards for TCU’s first score of the day.

Kansas responded with a touchdown of their own, before pulling ahead early in the second quarter on a two-yard run by Devin Neal.

The Frogs wouldn’t get back on the board again until the third quarter, and thus carried a 14-7 deficit into the locker room at the half.

According to Kill, Ochaun Mathis and several others spoke emotionally to the team at halftime, and that sparked an offensive outburst in the second half that saw TCU score a touchdown on three consecutive drives.

“Ochaun, those guys, they were getting on, hey, let’s go,” Kill mentioned during his press conference, “So it was an emotional locker room led by him at halftime.”

Senior Corey Bethley had six tackles, a career-high, on the night, and he too mentioned the leadership in the locker room.

“For the past couple of years, we had one or two and now it’s more six or seven seniors that everyone is trying to get everyone going and have a great energy for everyone. That’s what we had to do tonight.”

TCU’s three touchdowns in the second half helped them build a 28-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, before Kansas fought hard to come back. Jalon Daniels led two touchdown drives of his own, consistently finding open receivers as Kansas drew level at 28 with 4:46 left in the game.

TCU then methodically moved down the field, using 13 plays to eat into the rest of the game clock, setting up Kell’s kick.

The Frogs now sit at 5-6 with one game remaining on the calendar, a trip to Ames, Iowa next Friday to take on Iowa State.

When asked about how motivated this team was to get bowl-eligible, Kendre Miller said, “Really a lot of motivation. It wasn’t a pretty win but we pulled it out today. Really we just have to take it one step at a time. Give the seniors the best season we can with all this that happened this year. We’ve just got to keep going.”

Courtesy Jamie Plunkett