Texas Christian University beat Tarleton State with a final score of 59-17 advancing to 2-0 on the season. The home opening victory marks the first time since 1934 that a new TCU head coach has won consecutive games to open a season.
Max Duggan got the start after Chandler Morris suffered a knee sprain last week against Colorado. Duggan set career-high numbers in his first opportunity to retake the starting position, hitting 23 of 29 passes for 390 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
“With injuries, it’s no fun for anybody. Obviously, we both want to play, everybody wants to play, but understanding your role, when that is and helping each other out, I think you’ve seen that the last couple of weeks, and last year,” said Duggan in post-game interviews. “It’s not all on me. There are 10 other guys on offense that have got to do their job and do it to a standard. I think you saw that tonight.”
TCU opened the game scoring 21 straight points in the first quarter before Tarleton State had recorded a positive yard on offense. Two of the opening touchdowns came on passes to wide-open receivers as new head coach Sonny Dykes’ system left the Texans unable to counter the repeated body blows from Duggan and the offense.
“Max made good decisions, got the ball out to the guys who can make plays, and looked like a guy that was on his 30th start,” Dykes said. “That was what stood out to me, was just his experience, his comfort.”
Tarleton State opened the game going three-and-out for no yards until quarterback Beau Allen threw his first interception of the game on the first play of the second drive. The third drive went backward, as Tarleton was forced to punt after going negative-five yards.
“It got lopsided there and got out of hand. I thought we got off to a slow start. We really wanted to avoid that,” Tarleton coach Todd Whitten said. “TCU’s got a very good team. They’re really fast. We had a lot of trouble with their speed.”
Tarleton State amassed only 290 total yards in the game. QB Allen threw two interceptions against one touchdown and the offense was only good on third down 4 out of 11 opportunities.
TCU running backs Kendre Miller and Emani Bailey led the team in rushing yards with 56 and 47 respectively, with both backs scoring touchdowns. Third-string QB Sam Jackson also got playing time, going four for four passing and adding a rushing touchdown to the score.
One of the only mistakes in the game by TCU came late in the fourth quarter. With Jackson churning first downs on designated runs, the Horned Frogs were pushing for yet another score until Jackson lost the ball. Tarleton State recovered, ending the last opportunity for TCU to add to the score.
The Horned Frogs will now get a week-long break before facing Southern Methodist University on September 24. It will be the 101st meeting of the two colleges and the first time that Dykes will face the team he formerly coached since joining TCU to replace Gary Patterson in the offseason.