TCU didn’t have its starting guards on offense. It didn’t have two of its top receivers. It didn’t have a couple of defensive starters.
But the Horned Frogs had Zach Evans — in the first half at least. And Kendre Miller all night. That’s all that mattered in TCU’s 52-31 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium.
TCU finished with 394 yards rushing, its first 300-yard ground game since going for 333 yards against Louisiana Tech in last year’s season finale. It’s the most rushing yards by the Frogs since they had 431 yards at Baylor in 2016.
“After I saw Zach come in and I broke a pretty good run, I was like, ‘This is going to be a pretty good day,’” Miller said. “I could tell our offensive linemen were motivated.”
Evans and Miller each finished in the 100-yard, multiple-TD club. Miller led the way with a career-best 185 yards and three TDs, highlighted by scoring runs of 75 and 45 yards in the second half. Evans finished with 143 yards on 17 carries and two TDs, all coming in the first half. It marked the fourth straight game for Evans to reach the 100-yard mark.
Evans and Miller each had 100-yard, two-TD nights against Louisiana Tech last season too.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said Evans was battling a foot injury, which is why he didn’t play the second half. Patterson shot down speculation that Evans was benched following a celebration penalty after his second touchdown.
“No. We held him out because he couldn’t go,” Patterson said. “That turf is not a turf … it’s not a good turf for foot injuries.”
The Frogs never strayed away from what was working, running the ball 47 times compared to 10 passing plays. TCU QB Max Duggan finished 8 of 10 passing for 104 yards with one TD. The 10 pass attempts were the fewest in a game by Duggan.
With the victory, TCU improved to 3-2 and 1-1 in the Big 12. TCU faces No. 4 Oklahoma next Saturday in Norman. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on ABC.
Texas Tech dropped to 4-2, 1-2 in Big 12.
The Frogs headed to West Texas reeling on a two-game losing streak. Texas’ Bijan Robinson torched TCU’s defense for 216 yards the previous week.
But TCU responded Saturday with its best game to date.
“I told the guys, ‘It’s their Homecoming, man. We’ve got to take pride in this,’” TCU cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson said. “They put us on their Homecoming for a reason. They feel like we’re not what everyone says that we are. We came out and showed TCU ball, played hard every down, and we continued to put the ball in the end zone. And the defense we held up, whenever we had the chance to. I feel like today was a success.”
Evans set the tone early. He rushed for 25 yards on TCU’s first play on offense, and followed with a 35-yard rush. The Frogs took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive with a 4-yard TD pass from Duggan to Quincy Brown, and then made it 14-0 on the next drive with a 33-yard TD run by Miller.
After Tech cut the deficit to 14-7, Evans joined the scoring mix. He had a 7-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter.
Seconds later, TCU cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson came through by scoring on a pick-six. Tech QB Henry Colombi had a high throw that glanced off Myles Price’s hands and into those of Tomlinson, who returned it 29 yards for the score.
TCU turned its 14-7 lead into a 28-7 lead in a matter of 14 seconds, and it never looked back.
Evans leapt over a Texas Tech defender to score his second touchdown late in the first half to give TCU a 35-10 lead going into halftime. He and teammate Geor’Quarius Spivey received unsportsmanlike penalties afterward for their TD celebration.
But that didn’t slow down the Frogs, as they stayed comfortably in front the rest of the way. After Tech pulled to within 38-17 midway through the third quarter, Miller broke off for a 75-yard TD. Miller had a 45-yard TD run after TCU recovered an onside kick by Tech after Tech had pulled within 45-31 with just under four minutes left.
TCU scored on its first six drives outside of taking a knee to run out the clock late in the first half. It didn’t punt until the three-minute mark in the third quarter.
Defensively, TCU remains a work in progress, but it made the plays when needed. Tech finished just 4 of 13 on third down.
At the end of the day, given how short-handed TCU was it will take the victory. Among the Frogs sidelined going into it included starting guards Wes Harris and John Lanz; wide receivers Quentin Johnston and JD Spielman; and defensive backs Noah Daniels and Deshawn McCuin.
TCU also lost several players during the game to injury, including safety Bud Clark and defensive end Dylan Horton.
“It’s a game of attrition for us,” Patterson said. “We lost two safeties again, lost a corner, lost a linebacker, lost an end, lost a quarterback, lost a tailback, lost two offensive linemen, so we were just glad to get out with a win.”
This story was originally published October 9, 2021 9:34 PM.