TCU can’t close in Liberty Bowl – defeated by Georgia, 31-23
After a hard-fought, back-and-forth affair, TCU came up short against the University of Georgia on Friday at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, 31-23.
The loss dropped TCU’s record in bowl games under head coach Gary Patterson to 9-6.
The game started off slow with both teams punting on their initial possessions, but it didn’t take long for the action to heat up. On Georgia’s second possession, facing a third and eight from his own 16, Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason evaded the TCU pass rush and threw over the middle to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie for a 77-yard gain. The pass was the fourth-longest pass in Liberty Bowl History, the longest reception of McKenzie’s career and the longest completion of Eason’s career.
Two plays later, UGA running back Sony Michel punched in the game’s opening score on a four-yard running touchdown.
With about six minutes left in the first quarter, TCU’s offense finally started moving the chains. Running back Kyle Hicks started the drive with a nine-yard run and finished the drive with 40 yards rushing on five carries. TCU kicker Brandon Hatfield capped the drive with a 40-yard field goal, cutting the UGA lead to four, 7-3.
Where TCU’s momentum really kicked in was when TCU defensive end Tipa Galeai forced and recovered a fumble on the UGA 20 yard line. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill ran it in for the Frogs first touchdown of the game. But, Hatfield missed the extra point, leaving TCU with a two-point lead, 9-7. That missed PAT would be key later in the game.
Midway through the second quarter, TCU began a drive at the UGA 45 after a Bulldog punt. Four plays later TCU found itself in the end zone once again, this time on a Hill pass to wide receiver John Diarse on a 10-yard slant pattern. Hatfield hit the extra point to give TCU a 16-7 lead.
TCU went into the half with a 16-14 lead after Georgia could not capitalize on a Kenny Hill fumble, as they attempted a 53-yard field goal, but had it blocked by TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier as time expired.
After a promising 13-yard run by Hicks on the first possession of the second half, he fumbled the ball back to Georgia, who capped off a 12-play, 6:36-long drive with a four-yard play-action passing touchdown from Eason to wide receiver Javon Wims that gave Georgia the lead back, 21-16.
The Horned Frogs answered the UGA score with one of their own. A nine-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Diarse gave TCU the lead once again 23-21.
Georgia responded with a 30-yard field goal that capped off seven-play, 56-yard drive to take a one-point lead, 24-23.
After another Hatfield missed field goal halfway through the fourth quarter, Georgia took the lead for good 31-23 on a Nick Chubb 13-yard touchdown run that capped off a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive.
TCU picked a quick first down on a six-yard run by Hicks, but turned it over on downs after a fourth-and-four incompletion that was intended for wide receiver Taj Williams.
After TCU attempted to extend the game with a timeout after Georgia’s first play on offense, Georgia running back Nick Chubb ripped off a 27-yard run down the sideline that salted away the game, and the Bulldogs head back to Athens with an 8-5 record as the 2016 Liberty Bowl Champions.
Here are five things to know about the Liberty Bowl matchup on Friday afternoon between the Horned Frogs and the Bulldogs.
1. Kenny Hill and the TCU have another uneven performance