First, TCU stunned West Virginia on a game-tying 94-yard pass with 1:28 to play. Then the Horned Frogs delivered another surprise, gambling on a two-point conversion in double-overtime to steal a 39-38 win Saturday.
Tavon Austin’s 76-yard punt return snapped a tie game with 3:19 left in regulation, but West Virginia (5-3, 2-3) couldn’t make the 31-24 lead stand up.
TCU (6-3, 3-3) scored the tying touchdown in zany fashion, with Trevone Boykin scrambling out of his own end zone before finding Josh Boyce on a busted coverage for a 94-yard score. Officials ruled the Boyce had been pushed out of bounds by WVU cornerback Ricky Rumph, but the receiver legally re-established himself inbounds by the time he ran free near midfield.
“Obviously their quarterback got out of the pocket, and their receiver was out of bounds, and he came back in and we lost track of him,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, whose team dropped its third straight game.
Both teams flubbed field goals in the first overtime: TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom pulling his 37-yarder wide left, before Tyler Bitancurt’s 36-yarder was blocked by Jason Verrett rushing off the edge.
On the first play of the second overtime, Geno Smith hit Stedman Bailey for a 25-yard touchdown and a 38-31 lead.
TCU countered with a 25-yard reverse pass from receiver Brandon Carter to tight end Corey Fuller. The Frogs sent the PAT unit onto the field but then called timeout before opting to go for a do-or-die 2-point try. Boykins rolled right and threw into the end zone, where Boyce made a ground-level catch in front of WVU cornerback Pat Miller. Replay reviews were too inconclusive to overturn the catch.
“Oh, yeah, I knew I caught it,” said Boyce, who finished with six catches for 180 yards.
“We had edge pressure coming, and I thought we were in good position to make the play,” said West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. “They just made a better play that we did.”
West Virginia senior running back Shawne Alston — making his first carry since suffering a thigh bruise in the Week 2 win over James Madison — rushed seven times for 16 yards and a touchdown. As a team, WVU netted only 78 yards on 35 carries for a 2.2-yard average.
“The O-line played bad,” Holgorsen said. “(TCU) whipped us up front.”
Holgorsen wasn’t satisfied with the production of Geno Smith either, saying the senior quarterback “was probably as bad as he’s been since he’s been here.” Smith finished 32-of-54 passing for 260 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
TCU outgained West Virginia 405 to 338.
“What we’ve done the last three games offensively is totally unacceptable,” Holgorse said, “It falls on me.”
Bitancurt had an up-and-down third quarter, connecting on a 52-yard field goal that put WVU ahead 24-14, then mishandling a low punt snap that TCU’s Dominic Merka returned for a 15-yard score. Bitancurt wound up 1-of-5 on field goals, though three of his misses came from 50 yards or beyond.
West Virginia took a 21-14 lead late in the half thanks to a TCU bobbled punt that Nana Kyeremeh recovered at the Frogs’ 9-yard line. Smith was knocked out of bounds after going airborne on third-and-goal, but Alston powered in on fourth down.
Smith was 19-of-29 passing for 174 yards during a spotty first half. He poorly underthrew a second-quarter interception into double coverage, leading to TCU’s second touchdown. That followed a 22-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Woods that could have been intercepted by TCU safety Elisha Olabode, if not for Woods making a spectacular midair adjustment.
Austin tied it at 14-all by taking a touch-pass 43 yards with 9:57 to go in the half. The play appeared to be clogged on the left sideline before Austin cut back across the field, slipping tacklers and out-racing the defense to the right corner pylon.
WVU’s defense forced five first-half punts, equaling the number it forced in four previous games against Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas State. The Mountaineers forced TCU to punt nine times overall.
TCU’s Boykin fired a 22-yard, third-down pass to Brandon Carter to set up the game’s first score, a 2-yard run by Matthew Tucker. Boykin added a 31-yard scoring pass to Josh Boyce that put the Frogs ahead 14-7.
Replay the live blog from Saturday’s game: