By Will Martin
For two months there was a challenge placed before the boys in purple who make their home in Ft. Worth.
The challenge was getting the offensive side of the ball to fire off on all cylinders. For weeks that was not attainable for the TCU Horned Frogs.
Never mind the fact their defense kept them in almost every game save for a Longhorn visit and a three hour rain delay.
Last Saturday in Ft. Worth it was darn near perfection for the Frogs. Sure the game began ominously enough when Casey Pachall (QB starter) had his first pass on the first play deflected and intercepted.
While the Mountaineers pondered putting up seven quick points TCU’s defense did what it has done all season. Tightened and stiffened as West Virginia had to settle for a Josh Lambert 24-yard field goal two minutes in. A five play two minute drive.
TCU would respond with a 12 play 67 yard drive tying things up when Jaden Oberkrom hit a 22-yard field goal. On a day where the mercury reached 66 degrees 41,632 partisan fans were treated to the best half of TCU football offensively all year. Except for four plays, they played a perfect first half.
Casey Pachall was 17 of 28 for 201 yards in the first half. His main release valve was Josh Doctson. An eight play 80 yard drive that took all of three and a half minutes placed the Frogs ahead with 1:29 left in the first quarter when Pachall found Doctson for a ten yard strike for a score. Earlier that drive Pachall found Josh Doctson for a 37-yard completion.
West Virginia had no answers for TCU after that score Charles Sims racking up 80 yards on 8 carries. Mountaineer quarterback Clint Trickett looked like a bad Halloween. All trick and no treat.
TCU’s next ensuing drive would take all of 67 yards on 9 plays in under three minutes with David Porter catching a 12-yard toss from Casey Pachall at 12:10 of the first half. Advantage 17-3 Horned Frogs.
With 9:19 left in the half three of the final four plays that denied TCU first half perfection. It took only 62 seconds but in three plays West Virginia got on the board while covering 87 yards. One play a 45-yard pass from Clint Trickett to Mario Alford. Charles Sims would amble 31-yards for a Mountaineer touchdown.
TCU with a 17-10 halftime lead. Like I said, take away those four plays TCU is coasting 17-0. However like we learned last year West Virginia never goes down quietly. Refer to last year’s 39-38 thriller at their house.
Both defenses stiffened in the 3rd period. TCU got an interception from Paul Dawson that fell two yards short of a touchdown. One play later Trevone Boykin (at QB) fumbled the ball away. West Virginia would start the 4th period on the move and tighten the score with another field goal by Josh Lambert 17-13. 9 plays 72 yards in two minutes and 42 seconds.
As good as TCU looked in the first half, it appeared whatever adjustments Dana Holgorson made at halftime worked. Turnovers foiled TCU in the 4th quarter. Aside from the Boykin fumble, Casey Pachall would also cough up the football to a furious Mountaineer pursuit.
Clint Trickett put West Virginia ahead when finding wideout Cody Clay for an 11 yard touchdown with 8:55 left. Advantage West Virginia 20-17.
The lead would swell to ten after the Pachall fumble. Clint Trickett continued his second half routine of tossing off short drops while the Frogs secondary sat back. A toss to Charlie Sims at 7:11 for 17 yards put West Virginia ahead 27-17.
Were we about to have a 2012 repeat of amazing? Of course! Leave it to the Frogs to start connecting on the ground and in the air during a four minute drive that took 11 plays and 73 yards to cut the deficit to 27-24 with three minutes left. West Virginia was unable to run out the clock and so with 100 ticks of the clock remaining and TCU looking to position Jaden Oberkrom with a game tying field goal there was deja-vu all around Amon Carter Stadium.
Overtime became imminent when Oberkrom split the uprights with 19 seconds left in regulation from 45-yards out.
Casey Pachall would finish this day completing 40 of 58 passes for 394 yards and three scores. Trevone Boykin would reach 100 yards on 11 catches alongside 92 for Josh Doctson. Sadly a holding call in the first overtime possession would place TCU in a 1st and 30 situation. Unable to move the ball Jaden Oberkrom tried a field goal from 60 yards out that was long enough, only wide.
Clint Trickett-himself 25 for 41 and 267 yards with two touchdowns-was content to keep the ball on the ground with handoffs to Charles Sims (24-155 for a 6.4 average) before Josh Lambert ended the game in the first overtime 30-27.
Postgame Gary Patterson said matter of factly, ‘This was a game we gave away. No excuses.’
Jason Verrett was even more precise, ‘This was another game we didn’t close out!’
Even with 40 completions Casey Pachall was the least content of the bunch who addressed the media.
‘There was nothing that they did differently (West Virginia) it was us getting complacent, not having the intensity we had in the first few drives, and not scoring.’
After a first half that was almost perfect the second half was one where opportunities knocked and were not fully utilized. Fans will second guess the use of Trevone Boykin at quarterback after the Dawson interception. You can also make a point about seven penalties that hampered drives in the second half.
TCU (3-6, 1-5) now takes to the road for two of their final three games before closing the season exactly where it began. At AT&T Stadium on November 30th. This time against the Baylor Bears. Expect a raucous crowd that night.
Gary Patterson now also deals with another ugly fact: This is the first three game losing streak he has had to endure since his arrival to Ft. Worth. Next up for the Horned Frogs: A trip to Cyclone country-Iowa State followed by Kansas State on the November 16th.