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Saturday's college football: TCU stuns No. 9 Texas with a goal-line fumble recovery

John Zenor
Associated Press

Austin, Texas – Texas ran out of comebacks against Max Duggan and TCU.

The Horned Frogs quarterback ran for the go-ahead score with 4 minutes left and the defense made it stand with a goal-line fumble recovery to beat No. 9 Texas Saturday in a game that had 26 penalties and ended with TCU taking a safety to run out the final seconds of a 33-31 victory.

In doing so, the Horned Frogs (1-1, 1-1) dealt another tough blow to the Big 12’s College Football Playoff hopes now that Texas and Oklahoma, the league’s highest-ranked teams at the beginning of the season, each have early home losses to unranked opponents.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) scores a touchdown on a run against Texas during the first half.

“Find a way. You’ve got to take ball games,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. He’s now 7-2 against Texas since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012.

“Anybody we play in the state … We know their players, so our kids play hard, and our kids, their families get a chance to come to the ball games,” Patterson said. ”So, you know, it’s one of those games.”

Even with that history, Texas was stunned to walk off the field with the loss after being so close to another big escape. A week ago, Texas rallied late to win in overtime at Texas Tech.

After Duggan’s touchdown, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger marched the Longhorns to the lip of the end zone. A 52-yard pass to Keaontay Ingram put Texas in scoring position, but Ingram then fumbled on the TCU 1-yard-line with 2:32 to play.

Backed up with little room to move, TCU inched its way forward before Taye Barber ran 9 yards to pick up a critical first down that let the Horned Frogs bleed out the game clock. Duggan took a deep snap to the back of the end zone to run out the final 6 seconds.

Patterson never considered punting.

“It was better to take the safety than it was try and punt it and let them be able to get a long throw. You wanted to take the ball out of their hands,” Patterson said. “”Simple.”

Duggan led TCU’s upset of Texas last season as a freshman. He made his first start of the disrupted 2020 season after missing much of training camp while treating a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He passed for 231 yards and ran for 79 more and scored twice. His late 26-yard TD run caught the Texas defense by surprise as he had a clear path to the end zone.

Ehlinger threw four touchdown passes on an otherwise difficult day for him. Ehlinger was just 17 of 36 for 236 yards. His 14 touchdown passes in three games lead the nation.

Ehlinger last touchdown throw to Malcolm Epps gave Texas its first lead early in the fourth quarter. On the final drive, Ehlinger said he had an option to keep the ball instead of handing off to Ingram on the fumble.

“I talked to him. I reminded him that as much as we love this, it’s just a game. It’s not life or death,” Ehlinger said. “I told him it’s certainly not on him.

Griffin Kell kicked four field goals for the Horned Frogs.

“Griffin bailed us out quite a bit today,” Duggan said.

More Top 25

(At) No. 1 Clemson 41, Virginia 23: Trevor Lawrence threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, two to Amari Rodgers, and Clemson started 3-0 for the sixth straight season.

The Tigers (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) looked a bit sluggish after a week off, but heated up against the Cavaliers (1-1, 1-1) when their offensive stars in Lawrence, Rodgers and tailback Travis Etienne got rolling. 

Lawrence extended his streak of pass attempts without an interception to 314, spanning his past nine games.

Virginia, pounded by the Tigers 62-17 last December in the ACC Championship game, fought back to cut it to 27-17 midway through the third period, but Lawrence found Etienne near the goal line for a 4-yard scoring pass. 

It was the 38th game with at least one touchdown for Etienne, matching the all-time mark shared by Florida’s Tim Tebow and Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon. Etienne finished with 115 yards on the ground and five catches for 75 yards. 

(At) No. 2 Alabama 52, No. 13 Texas A&M 24: Mac Jones passed for a career-high 435 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair of deep throws to John Metchie III and an even longer one to Jaylen Waddle, and Alabama romped past Texas A&M.

Briefly threatened early, Jones and the Crimson Tide (2-0) flexed their considerable big-play muscle in the passing game to put away the Aggies (1-1). A sign of things to come: His first attempt went 78 yards to Metchie, ‘Bama’s latest major receiving threat.

Jones topped that with an 87-yard TD to Waddle, who had sprinted past two Aggies defenders to make the grab with nothing but green in between himself and the end zone. Metchie and Jones hooked up for a 63-yarder in the fourth, giving the sophomore five catches for 181 yards.

Jones finished 19-of-26 passing for a second straight surgically precise performance marred by one interception off a deflection. Waddle had 142 yards receiving and his touchdown catch was tied for the fifth-longest in program history.

(At) No. 3 Florida 38, South Carolina 24: Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts hooked up for two more touchdowns, leading Florida past South Carolina.

Trask completed 21 of 29 passes for 268 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception. His second-quarter fumble kept the Gamecocks (0-2) in the game early.

Pitts finished with four receptions for 57 yards, commanding extra attention and beating South Carolina’s top defenders. He nearly made a one-handed catch in the third quarter, but the ball slipped off his left fingertips.

Some thought former Florida coach Will Muschamp and his Gamecocks would find a way. But the Gators (2-0) had their way with South Carolina for three quarters. They finished with 347 yards and punted twice.

(At) No. 4 Georgia 27, No. 7 Auburn 6: Stetson Bennett threw for 240 yards and a touchdown in his first college start, Zamir White ran for a pair of scores and Georgia romped past Auburn in the first Top 10 matchup of the college football season.

The Bulldogs (2-0) buried Auburn with a 24-0 blitz in the first half, extending their domination of the Deep South’s oldest rivalry.

The teams had traditionally played in November, but a revamped Southeastern Conference schedule in this pandemic-affected season moved the game up to Week 2. It was their earliest meeting since the very first game in the series was played in February 1892. No matter the time of year, Georgia kept the upper hand with a fourth straight victory over Auburn (1-1). The Bulldogs have won 13 of the last 16 meetings.

Bennett, a fourth-year junior known as “The Mailman,” sure delivered before a socially distanced crowd of 20,524 at Sanford Stadium. He didn’t make any major mistakes while completing an efficient 17 of 28 passes, including a 21-yard touchdown to George Pickens. Kearis Jackson was Bennett’s favorite receiver, hauling in nine catches for 147 yards.

Tulsa 34, (at) No. 11 UCF 26: Zach Smith threw three touchdown passes and Tulsa erased an 18-point first-half deficit to beat UCF, snapping the Knights’ 21-game home winning streak.

The Golden Hurricane (1-1) made it two straight wins over UCF (2-1), which was plagued by penalties (18 for 124 yards) and turned the ball over three times.

Smith threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Keylon Stokes to give Tulsa a 31-26 lead with 12:56 remaining. Zack Long added a 34-yard field goal with 1:30 remaining to make it 34-26.

UCF (2-1) drove into Tulsa territory, but after a holding penalty pushed the Knights out of the red zone Dillon Gabriel’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete.

Gabriel was 28 of 51 for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Tulsa was the last team to beat UCF at home with a 35-20 win on Nov. 19, 2016, when Scott Frost was the Knights’ head coach. The Golden Hurricane also upset UCF last season 34-31 in Tulsa.

No. 12 North Carolina 26, (at) Boston College 22: Sam Howell threw two touchdown passes and Trey Morrison scored after intercepting the potential tying 2-point conversion with 45 seconds left to lead North Carolina.

With the cancellation of one game because of the virus and a scheduled off week leaving North Carolina idle since Sept. 12, the Tar Heels (2-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) sent BC (2-1, 1-1) to its first loss under new coach Jeff Hafley.

Howell completed 14 of 26 passes for 225 yards, including a 41-yard score to Javonte Williams that gave Carolina a 21-13 lead with just over a minute left in the first half. Williams ran for 57 yards and caught two passes for 56, and Michael Carter carried 16 times for 121 yards for the Tar Heels.

UNC led 24-16 with just under six minutes left before Phil Jurkovec drove BC into Tar Heels territory and completed three passes in the end zone. The first two were negated by penalties, but a 6-yard pass to C.J. Lewis made it a two-point game with 45 seconds left, with the 2-point conversion to come. Jurkovec scrambled and threw to the end zone, but Morrison picked it him off and ran down the left sideline for the defensive 2-point conversion.

Jurkovec completed 37 of 56 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns, hitting tight end Hunter Long nine times for 96 yards.

(At) No. 15 Cincinnati 28, South Florida 7: Gerrid Doaks ran for 102 yards and a touchdown, Tre Tucker returned a kickoff 97 yards for a score and No. 15 Cincinnati had five interceptions in a victory over South Florida.

Doaks had his first 100-yard rushing game since November 2019 when he ran for 123 against UConn.

Tucker returned the kickoff late in the third quarter to put Cincinnati ahead 28-7. It was the first kick return TD by a Bearcats player since Ralph David Abernathy IV in the Liberty Bowl against Vanderbilt in December 2011.

The game started sloppily with four turnovers, two by each team, in the first 11 snaps.

South Florida used four quarterbacks, with sophomore Jordan McCloud going 12 of 21 for 137 yards with two interceptions. Freshman Katravis Marsh got the start, but he threw three interceptions, including two in his first four attempts.

USF tied a school record with the five interceptions.

The Bearcats (3-0) ran for 189 yards, and managing only 69 last week in a win over Army.

Arkansas 21, (at) No. 16 Mississippi State 14: Feleipe Franks threw two touchdown passes and Arkansas intercepted three of K.J. Costello’s passes to break a 20-game Southeastern Conference losing streak.

A week after a record-breaking and stunning upset against LSU, the Bulldogs (1-1) and new coach Mike Leach hardly looked like the same team. Costello was 43 of 59 for 313 yards and one touchdown. Costello and the Air Raid shredded LSU for a Southeastern Conference record 623 yards passing, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs in the red zone twice in the fourth quarter and also lost a fumble against Arkansas.

Greg Brooks Jr. returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown to put Arkansas (1-1) on top early and the Razorbacks led 14-7 at the half. Arkansas managed only 275 yards of total offense and 24 minutes of possession.

No. 17 Oklahoma State 47, (at) Kansas 7: Shane Illingworth threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns, Chuba Hubbard ran for 145 yards and two more scores, and Oklahoma State was able to rest its starters the final 20 minutes in its victory over Kansas.

Tylan Wallace had nine catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and Braylon Johnson had four catches for 74 yards and the other passing TD, as the Cowboys (3-0, 2-0 Big 12) built a 31-0 lead by halftime.

Oklahoma State finished with 298 yards through the air and 295 on the ground for 593 yards of total offense. But as gaudy as those numbers might be, the Cowboys’ defense may have been even more impressive.

Jalon Daniels and Miles Kendrick were a combined 14 of 24 for 92 yards and a pick for the Jayhawks (0-3, 0-2).

(At) Iowa State 37, No. 18 Oklahoma 30: Breece Hall scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 8-yard run with 4:06 left and Isheem Young intercepted Spencer Rattler’s pass in the end zone on Oklahoma’s final drive.

The Sooners (1-2), beaten at home by Kansas State last week, lost back-to-back regular-season games for the first time since 1999. They lost in Ames for the first time since 1960. 

The Cyclones (2-1) wore down the Sooners with the running of Hall, who rushed for 139 yards. Iowa State’s Brock Purdy passed for 254 yards and ran for a 2-yard touchdown to tie it at 30.

Isaiah Thomas seemed to turn the momentum in the Sooners’ favor when he sacked Purdy, causing him to fumble at the Cyclones’ 39. Four plays later Rattler found Jeremiah Hall for a 4-yard touchdown pass that put Oklahoma up 30-23 with 8:17 left.

Kene Nwangwu returned the ensuing kick off 85 yards, setting up Purdy’s short touchdown run to tie the game.

No. 20 LSU 41, (at) Vanderbilt 7: Myles Brennan threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns and LSU bounced back to beat Vanderbilt.

The defending national champs never trailed after losing their season opener last week to Mississippi State. LSU also extended its winning streak over the Commodores to nine in a series it leads 24-7-1.

The Tigers outgained Vanderbilt 498-266, and the defense came up with two interceptions and a pair of sacks.

Terrace Marshall Jr. finished with two TDs on two catches, and Jontre Kirklin had 65 yards receiving and two TD catches, the second a toe-tapper at the back of the end zone off a flea-flicker. John Emery ran for 103 yards and a TD.

Vanderbilt (0-2) had its chances with freshman Ken Seals making his home debut. When Randall Haynie picked off an overthrown pass from Brennan, Seals hit tight end Ben Bresnahan with an 8-yard TD pass to pull the Commodores to 14-7 in the second quarter.

(At) No. 21Tennessee 35, Missouri 12: Eric Gray ran for 105 yards and a touchdown and caught a scoring pass to help Tennessee beat Missouri

The Vols (2-0) have won eight in a row, tying Notre Dame for the most among Power Five teams.

Jarrett Guarantano played a mistake-free game for Tennessee, completing 14 of 23 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. He also converted on three fourth-down runs in the first quarter and had two short touchdown runs.

Connor Bazelak relieved Shawn Robinson at quarterback in the second quarter for Missouri (0-2).

North Carolina State 30, (at) No. 24 Pittsburgh 29: Devin Leary hit Emeka Emezie for the go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds remaining and North Carolina State beat Pittsburgh.

Leary, making his first start of the season, drove the Wolfpack 79 yards in 12 plays, the final 13 coming on a perfect back-shoulder throw to Emezie, who made a perfect spinning grab to give N.C. State its first victory over a ranked team since 2017.

Leary finished 28 of 44 for 336 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to put N.C. State (2-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) in front.

Kenny Pickett threw for a career-high 411 yards and a touchdown and added two more on the ground for the Panthers.

(At) SMU 30, No. 25 Memphis 27: Chris Naggar kicked a 43-yard field goal with nine seconds left and SMU beat Memphis after the Mustangs blew an early three-touchdown lead against a team playing its first game in four weeks.

Memphis (1-1), which because of COVID-19 issues hadn’t played since winning its opener Sept. 5, was driving for a potential go-ahead score when Brady White was sacked and fumbled with 1:25 left. That set up the final drive for SMU (4-0).

Shane Buechele was 32-of-45 passing for 474 yards and three touchdowns. That included catch-and-run scores of 70 and 85 yards to Reggie Roberson before the star receiver left the game with an apparent left knee injury late in the third. Roberson finished with five catches for 243 yards.

White was 29 of 42 for 380 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Damonte Coxie had eight catches for 169 yards.