It wasn’t a 31-point comeback, but it was just about as fun for Gary Patterson and TCU.
The No. 15 Horned Frogs, two years after a record-setting comeback in the same building, put together another double-digit come-from-behind victory in San Antonio’s Alamodome on Thursday night. TCU recovered from an 18-point deficit to emerge with a 39-37 win over No. 13 Stanford in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
After Stanford jumped out to a 21-3 second-quarter lead and held a 21-10 halftime advantage, Patterson considered changing his shirt, something he did at halftime in the 2015 Alamo Bowl when the Horned Frogs trailed Oregon 31-0, a game in which they came back to win 47-41 in triple overtime.
He didn’t have to, thanks to the host of big plays the Horned Frogs reeled off in the second half. Among them:
• A picturesque pass from Hill to a streaking Jalen Reagor for a 93-yard touchdown to narrow Stanford’s lead to 31-29 just 26 seconds into the fourth.
• A 76-yard punt return by White less than three minutes later, who turned a field-flipping, 60-yard punt from Stanford’s Jake Bailey into points by zigging and zagging past the Cardinal’s coverage team.
Hill, in his final collegiate game, was everywhere, throwing for two touchdowns, rushing for one and catching one. It was the second time he has done that this season and he’s one of only two players (Utah’s Troy Williams is the other) to accomplish the feat this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The 93-yard strike to Reagor was Hill’s longest pass of his career and Hill led the team with 60 rushing yards.
He didn’t do it alone, however, getting a ton of help from Reagor, an explosive freshman who caught five passes for 169 yards and had the key punt return and a defense that picked off Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello twice.
The 29-point second-half from the Horned Frogs helped them survive a strong effort from the Cardinal, particularly running back Bryce Love. The Heisman Trophy finalist, who entered the game hampered by an ankle injury, had a game-high 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yarder in the third quarter. Love suffered a thumb injury on his left hand in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.
Patterson’s teams have mastered the art of bowl comebacks — and bounce back seasons. By finishing 11-3, the Horned Frogs are now a combined 34-5 in the three seasons that followed a non-winning record in the 17-year Patterson era.