Hill powers TCU past West Virginia

Billy Wessels, Publisher
Purple Menace
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In a game where most of the country's eyes were on TCU, senior quarterback Kenny Hill gave them a show.

Hill scored three touchdowns, three different ways, all in the second half, as No. 8 TCU held on to knock off No. 23 West Virginia 31-24.

"That's what seniors are supposed to do," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "If I tell you it's unbelievable it would sound like I'm surprised. We had the plays set up and called for him."

TCU held on to a 10-7 lead midway through the third quarter when the Frogs got an interception by Nick Orr. The Frogs struck quick and Hill connected with freshman wide out Jalen Reagor on a 45-yard touchdown to give TCU a two-score lead.

West Virginia didn't give up and scored on 64- and 76-yard passes on its next two possessions to tie the game back at 17. That's when the Frogs went to their bag of tricks.

"We had the call because they are a lot like us on defense, aggressive," Patterson said. "And they still almost got him."

Hill gave the ball to KaVontae Turpin on a sweep, but Hill ran behind his blockers to the TCU sideline, caught the pass back from Turpin, broke one tackle and raced down the sideline for 48 yards and the go-ahead score.

"I had told (Sonny) Cumbie since we had been practicing that play all week that if they call the play I'm going to score," Hill said. "I wasn't going to let anybody tackle me and I was so excited when they called the play."

The Frogs had seemingly taken momentum for good, but the resilient West Virginia team drove down the field again and tied the game with 9:50 left. It took Hill one more drive, one more way to find the end zone, for TCU to put this game away.

Hill led a 13-play, 65-yard drive that had its fair share of drama on a possible interception near the goal line. He threw a ball up from the 34-yard line that the WVU defender bobbled and just barely couldn't come down with in bounds. It was called an interception on the field, but was overturned.

John Diarse hauled in a 23-yard grab, his longest of the day, on an inside hook route that he shook the defender and raced to the eight-yard line. Diarse finished with four catches for 70 yards, both leading the team.

"He's been a rock of our wide receiver group," Patterson said of Diarse. "He's got no ego. He blocks. He comes out if you want him to come out. He steps up and makes plays when you need him to."

Three plays later, Hill dove into the end zone on a designed keeper and put TCU up for good.

"It just means that this team trusts me with the ball down there," Hill said. "It gives me a lot of confidence and glad we could get it done."

Hill is just the fourth player in Big 12 history to pass, rush and throw for a touchdown in a game and the first since 2008. He's also the only one to do it among current Big 12 schools. The last three occurrences were by players from Colorado and Nebraska.

West Virginia and its quick-strike offense had one more chance to tie the game with 2:53 to play, but an offensive pass interference call put the Mountaineers in a hole they couldn't get out of. Three straight incompletions got the Frogs the ball back to run out the clock.

TCU's defense held West Virginia to just three points in the first half, partly due to the defense, but also due to the incredible day from punter Adam Nunez. He punted seven times for 301 yards, four of his punts were downed inside the West Virginia six-yard line.

"That's as important of a reason as any for them having just three points in the first half," Patterson said. "When you have to start around the five, it's hard to score."

TCU had a 7-3 lead at halftime thanks to a sprawling score from Sewo Olonilua out of the wild frog formation.

The Frogs were led defensively by Travin Howard's 12 tackles. Orr had nine tackles and his interception.

"He threw it right to me," Orr said. "I was just rolling through the middle and saw the ball as I was rolling and caught it and tried to make a play."

Ranthony Texada, Ty Summers and Ben Banogu each had sacks in the game. Texada had the first sack of the game.

"Grier is a great player and tough to bring down," Texada said. "Coach P made the call and I just made sure I got him down. I like those corner blitzes a lot."

This is just the next in line of what has become a great rivalry between West Virginia and TCU. The Frogs have won four of the six meetings between the two teams since they joined the Big 12 in 2012. Four of the meetings have been by seven points or less, three by three or less.

"Welcome to another saga in TCU versus West Virginia," Patterson said. "Holy Moly. I should have taken three baby aspirin, not two."

Patterson and WVU coach Dana Holgorsen have a lot of respect for each other since joining the Big 12 together.

"I'm excited about this one. Every year against these guys is like this," Patterson said. "I like Dana a lot. They are a blue collar team and came out and played today."

No. 8 TCU (5-0, 2-0 in the Big 12) is now the lone undefeated team in the Big 12 and travel to Kansas State (3-1, 1-0 in the Big 12) at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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