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Breaking news: Texas Tech wins defensive struggle at TCU

Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

With the chance to go up 10-0 after forcing a turnover, TCU kicker Brandon Hatfield missed a 37-yard field goal. The celebratory “Frog Horn” – a converted train whistle – sounded even though it’s used when the home team scores.

That sequence – failing to score after recovering a fumble at the Texas Tech 23 – provided foreshadowing for the afternoon of unusual and unfortunate happenings at Amon Carter Stadium. What was expected to be an offensive shootout ended up with a final score that most expected to be the score after the first quarter.

The Red Raiders, a week after engaging in a record-setting game that produced just another loss, posted the most important statistic: a victory. Clayton Hatfield knuckle-balled a 37-yard field goal through the uprights to give Texas Tech a 27-24 win. Both teams are now 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12.

“I can’t remember an ugly win like this that we had here, so to find a way when everything was kind of going against us says a lot about their character,” said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose team is home against Texas Saturday. “Hopefully we can build off this.

“I just told the defense how proud I was, because you do the best you can to insulate them from all the noise, but it gets to them. But their focus, their determination, it was outstanding. I’m just very proud of them.”

Texas Tech had a season-low 345 yards after rolling to 854 yards last week in a 66-59 loss to Oklahoma in Lubbock. It was the fewest points in a victory for the Red Raiders since beating TCU 20-10 in 2013, Kingsbury’s first season.

While one Hatfield was the hero, another kicker with the same last name had a day to forget. TCU’s Hatfield shanked a 40-yard attempt in the second overtime, his third miss of the game. That allowed the Red Raiders to attempt three safe running plays to set up the game-winning kick.

“For years, you find ways to win them, then you find ways to lose them” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “We’ve got to get back on the track of finding ways to win them. It’s pretty simple.”

Patterson went baseball manager and made a call to the bullpen. The Horned Frogs’ offense has suddenly turned impotent and quarterback Kenny Hill has struggled in the last three games. After Hill threw an interception, Patterson switched to sophomore Foster Sawyer late in the third quarter. Hill was 16 of 29 passing for 160 yards. Hill has 13 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

TCU finished with 418 yards of total offense against a Texas Tech defense that was next-to-last in FBS allowing 532 yards per game. Three weeks ago, TCU was averaging 43 points and 536 yards per game. In losing two of their last three, the Frogs have averaged 19.3 points and 361 yards in total offense.

Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who last week had an FBS-record 819 total yards, was limited to 206 yards passing on 24 of 39 attempts. But his second touchdown pass sent the game into overtime. Mahomes capped an 80-yard, 16-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Cantrell with 1:28 left in regulation.

“Offensively we struggled,” Kingsbury said. “I told Coach Patterson that’s the best defensive plan I’ve ever gone against, because it was nothing that we’ve seen all year. He changed up his looks and we didn’t adjust well to it. It was a tremendous defensive plan, tremendous defensive effort by them.”

The three words “tremendous defensive effort” have rarely been uttered when these teams play.

The last two games played in Fort Worth saw a combined 109 points. Texas Tech won, 56-53, in triple overtime in 2012 and the Frogs trounced the Red Raiders 82-27 two years later. Last season TCU won in Lubbock, 55-52.

“Just the last two years, with last year losing with the tip touchdown and the year before just getting beat down pretty badly where you just felt bad about yourself, getting to come and win any Big 12 road game always feels awesome,” Mahomes said.

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