FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Max Duggan wiggled out of a sack that would have been a safety, made Sam Ehlinger pay right away for one of the Texas quarterback’s career-high four interceptions and saved probably his best completion for last to beat No. 15 Texas.
Pretty good timing for the TCU freshman’s best game.
Duggan threw two touchdown passes, including a tiebreaking 44-yarder to Jalen Reagor the first play after Ehlinger’s second interception, and ran for a clinching score to lead the Horned Frogs past the Longhorns 37-27 on Saturday.
“Man, y’all see,” Reagor said about Duggan, who wasn’t available because coach Gary Patterson doesn’t allow freshmen to talk to reporters. “He’s a great playmaker, great quarterback. He’s young, but in due time, he’ll be great.”
The Longhorns (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) lost a third straight game in Fort Worth for the first time since the 1940s. It was the fifth win in six tries against Texas for the Horned Frogs, which includes their first four-game winning streak in the series since the 1930s.
“When you’re in a hole like this, the only way to get out of it is to fight and to work harder,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “These things don’t happen by calling magic defenses or magic offenses. They happen by coming to work every day as coaches giving everything we have to our players.”
Duggan finished with a career-best 273 yards passing against the Big 12’s worst pass defense. His 11-yard run for the final points came right after a 36-yard toss to Taye Barber with a defender in his face, and with the Horned Frogs trying to protect a three-point lead.
With a team-high 72 yards rushing, Duggan helped the Horned Frogs (4-3, 2-2) bounce back from consecutive conference road losses. Duggan came in with the league’s lowest QB efficiency rating.
“Everybody wants players to be like hot cocoa,” Patterson said. “You just rip off the cover, pour it in and put hot water in and they’re a great player. It’s good. Hot cocoa is ready to go. It’s just not that easy.”
Ehlinger’s first three interceptions led to 13 TCU points, and Herman gave the Horned Frogs three more when he called timeout just before freshman Griffin Kell missed a 52-yard field goal try on the final play of the first half. Kell drilled the second chance.
TCU’s Big 12-leading defense stopped a rare three-game stretch without a takeaway when Garret Wallow intercepted Ehlinger not long after the Duggan’s first college interception. He went 143 passes without a pick, the second-longest streak in school history.
“They did a great job in coverage,” Ehlinger said. “They got an experienced secondary. They didn’t do anything exotic or cut anybody loose. They did a good job of bringing pressure but also being balanced and making it difficult for our guys to get open.”
Reagor, who entered the season with high expectations but had just 271 yards through six games for a struggling offense, easily ran past D’Shawn Jamison for his longest completion of the season.
The throw was right on stride near the goal line for Reagor, a junior still looking for his first 100-yard game this year after running off seven in a row last season.
With Texas trying to get the ball back after pulling to 30-27 on the last of four drives of at least 75 yards, Duggan made a perfect sideline throw to John Stephens for 16 yards on third-and-11 with plenty of time remaining.
“My freshman year, I played with a lot of emotion,” said Reagor, who had 55 yards receiving. “And I feel like just him being young, some of this stuff is just growing pains and once he really settles in, y’all will see what he can do.”
Ehlinger was 27 of 48 for 321 yards and two touchdowns, and Devin Duvernay had a 47-yard touchdown and a 63-yard catch among a career-high 173 yards receiving.
Texas: This might be the biggest soul-searching loss in Herman’s three seasons, coming a week after the Longhorns avoided an embarrassing defeat with a field goal on the final play to beat Kansas 50-48. Texas didn’t trail until Reagor’s TD, and once again the defense couldn’t make a play in crunch time.
TCU: The Horned Frogs got exactly what they needed just as it looked like their season was getting away from them. The commitment to Duggan finally paid off, and a defense that was uncharacteristically quiet in the losses to Iowa State (49-24) and Kansas State (24-17) came alive.
The Longhorns were the highest-ranked two-loss team. Now the question is whether they even deserve to be in the poll with three losses, including two in the past three weeks.
Texas: A week off, then Kansas State at home Nov. 9.
TCU: At Oklahoma State next Saturday.
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