AMES, Iowa -- Third-ranked TCU saved the fourth-quarter drama for another week.
After outlasting Kansas State and surviving Texas Tech in their previous two trips away from Forth Worth, the Horned Frogs pulled away from Iowa State after a wild first quarter Saturday to win 45-21 at Jack Trice Stadium.
The Cyclones (2-4, 1-2 Big 12) pulled out every stop in the opening 15 minutes and led 7-0 and 21-14, using a converted fake punt three minutes into the game and a spectacular 74-yard strike from backup QB Joel Lanning to Allen Lazard to spark the upset-minded crowd.
Iowa State also recovered an onside kick -- nullified by penalty -- and gained 262 yards in the first quarter on 24 offensive plays. But TCU, which trailed by 18 points last week at K-State, pulled even on the first play of the second quarter as Trevone Boykin hit Charlie Reid for a 14-yard touchdown, the first of 31 consecutive points by the Horned Frogs (7-0, 4-0).
TCU went ahead for good on Jaden Oberkrom’s 23-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half. It drove 86 yards for a Kyle Hicks touchdown to open the second half. Boykin ran and threw for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a door-slamming, 42-yard dart to Josh Doctson with 8:45 to play.
Boykin finished 27-of-32 passing for 436 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 74 yards and one score. Doctson, who left with an injury in the first quarter, returned to grab 10 receptions for 190 yards and two scores.
TCU safety Denzel Johnson was ejected for targeting in the first quarter after an Iowa State incompletion.
What the win means for TCU: The Horned Frogs remain among the ranks of the unbeaten. There were 16 to start Saturday, and two from the SEC lost. Despite the playoff narrative from last season, TCU is in survival mode; style points are not necessary if it keeps a zero in the loss column. The Horned Frogs can take a breath this week and work to get healthy before a pre-Halloween, Thursday-night home game against West Virginia. Doctson’s big night essentially secures his status as a first-half-of-the-season All-American, and Boykin did nothing against the Cyclones to damage his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
What the loss means for Iowa State: The Cyclones were simply outmanned by TCU after their red-hot opening quarter. Iowa State won’t often win these Big 12 shootouts. It was ugly last week at Texas Tech, and get ready to cover your eyes as the Cyclones visit Baylor next. Doubts persist, of course, about this team’s ability to stay above water in competition with the ultra-athletic outfits of the Big 12, such as TCU. Iowa State has a few stars who can keep pace -- notably Lazard, the 6-foot-5 sophomore wideout who caught five passes for 147 yards. But coach Paul Rhoads is trying to climb a steep mountain.
Stats of the game: This stuff comes up every week with the Horned Frogs, but the numbers are worth reporting. Most notably, TCU won its 15th consecutive game, a school record, surpassing streaks in 1937-38 and 2008-09. It ranks the Horned Frogs second nationally. Additionally, TCU scored in its 287th consecutive game, the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. Boykin broke Andy Dalton’s TCU record with a touchdown pass in his 22nd straight game, and Doctson’s fourth-quarter touchdown catch was his 12th of the season -- breaking the single-season school record he set last year. Doctson also topped 1,000 receiving yards for the season and shattered the school single-season record Saturday. Yes, it is Week 7.
Uh, what? Mixed into the frenetic first quarter, officials ruled a second-down throw by Sam B. Richardson from the TCU 28-yard line as an interception, signaling that TCU cornerback Nick Orr wrestled the ball from Quenton Bundrage as both players rolled out of the end zone. Replay clearly showed that Orr did not possess the ball in bounds, leaving the crew to determine if Bundrage caught the ball in bounds. It was close, leaving Iowa State fans angry at the announcement by referee Mike Defee of an incomplete pass. They weren’t mad for long. Bundrage gained 24 on the next play before Mike Warren trotted into the end zone to unlock a 14-14 tie.