TCU handed BYU its first loss in six games, 38-28, at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night. The Horned Frogs struck early, scoring 14 points in the first five minutes of the game and never lost the lead.
“It’s a difficult loss because this is one of the closest games we’ve played against TCU in four years,” safety Travis Uale said. “It hurts but I think the way we played tonight wasn’t displayed on the scoreboard.”
Overall, BYU ran and passed for more yards than TCU. The defense played well also, holding the Horned Frogs to just 5-for-14 on third down conversions.
But the Cougars had several mistakes on special teams that lead to quick scores by the Horned Frogs.
For example, BYU’s opening drive ended on a missed snap as the team tried to punt the ball away, thus giving TCU a short field. Several other punts and field goals were missed because of bad snaps, players slipping or dropping the ball. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he’s never been more frustrated as a coach.
“I can’t even describe it right now,” Mendenhall said. “[The special teams errors] caught me completely by surprise, not once, the second time, but three times. I didn’t think it would happen. … I hate to say any one particular part of the game changed the outcome of the game but it certainly controlled field position which controlled scoring.”
The Horned Frogs scored again in the third quarter and BYU kicked a field goal to put TCU up 35-13. On the next drive, BYU’s defense held TCU to three-and-out. Sophomore receiver J.D. Falslev received the kick, followed his blocks and returned the punt for a touchdown. BYU seemed to rally from that point and outscored TCU 8-3 in the final 17:20 of the game.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that we felt like we had momentum,” Falselv said. “We just were out of time, that’s the most frustrating thing. With everything that went wrong that overshadowed all the great things that happened in this game, we ran out of time. We were on a high there for a second once I returned that [touchdown].”
Junior quarterback Riley Nelson ran for 84 yards and completed 15-for-29 passing with one touchdown, but also threw two interceptions and put a lot of the blame on himself.
“This one hurts because I really could not have played worse in the first half,” Nelson said. “That’s to their credit … because I thought I knew what to expect. That on top of the turnovers, I feel really disapointed with my performance in the first half.”
Nelson played well during the second half and continued to fight hard until the end of the game. He dove into the end zone with just three minutes left to complete a two-point conversion, but it wasn’t enough to come back from BYU’s early deficit.
“I thought we fought hard and I like this team,” Mendenhall said. “It was a privilege to coach them today because they wanted to keep playing. They wanted to keep playing football and they were frustrated by the mistakes we made but they were having fun and supporting each other. They believe in one another and I believe in them.”