By JIM VERTUNO AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — TCU quarterback Max Duggan ran for the go-ahead score with 4 minutes left and the Horned Frogs’ defense made it stand with a goal-line fumble recovery to stun No. 9 Texas 33-31 Saturday in a game that had 26 penalties and ended when TCU took a safety as time ran out.
Texas looked primed for its second straight fourth-quarter comeback when Sam Ehlinger connected on a 52-yard pass to Keontay Ingram to put the Longohorns in scoring position. But Ingram fumbled on the TCU 1-yard-line with 2:32 to play.
Darwin Barlow ran 9 yards to pick up a big first down for the Horned Frogs. Duggan then took a deep snap all the way to the back of the end zone to run out the final 6 seconds.
TCU (1-1, 1-1 Big 12) is now 7-2 against Texas since joining the Big 12 in 2012. The Texas loss delivers another blow to the Big 12’s College Football Playoff hopes. The Longhorns (2-1, 1-1) and Oklahoma, who were the league’s highest ranked teams, have now dropped early home games to unranked opponents.
“Find a way. You’ve got to take ball games,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “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 … So, you know, it’s one of those games.”
Duggan made his first start of the 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.
After last week’s furious comeback win at Texas Tech, the Longhorns thought they had another when Ehlinger gave Texas its first lead with a TD throw to Malcolm Epps for their first lead. He then led Texas right back down the field after Duggan’s scoring run. Then came Ingram’s fumble.
Griffin Kell kicked four field goals for the Horned Frogs in a sloppy game by both teams with rampant penalties. The NCAA single-game record for penalties is 36, set in 1986 by Fresno State and San Jose State.
TCU: Duggan’s play gives TCU hope the Horned Frogs may be able to compete for the Big 12 title. Duggan was sharp on throws early and late, and had the stamina to find the moves and the speed for the late touchdown even after getting hit hard several times during the game.
Texas: The Longhorns now find themselves in a fight to get to the Big 12 title game with a huge game against Oklahoma next week. Ehlinger can’t do everything for the Longhorns every week. The defense was much better this week and held the Horned Frogs to field goals instead of touchdowns on several key drives, but broke when it mattered at the end.
“I need to have deep conversation with our leadeship council and find out the psyche of our team,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “We’ve got to find a way to make sure that whatever it is that caused the breakdowns today doesn’t happen again’.”
Texas will tumble out of the Top 10 in more bad news for the Big 12.
The penalties started from the opening kickoff and never let up. It took three tries just to get the opening kickoff done. The first penalty by TCU wiped out a big tackle that pinned Texas deep and the next one — on the re-kick — negated a Longhorns kickoff return inside the TCU 5. The game officials then picked up a flag on a long run that set up TCU’s first touchdown. On the first possession of the second quarter, Texas starting linebacker Juwan Mitchell was ejected for targeting on a big hit on Duggan.
“We beat ourselves,” Ehlinger said. “We shouldn’t even be thinking big picture right now with the amount of small mistakes that we made.”
TCU hosts Kansas State next Saturday
Texas plays Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas next Saturday.