Big second half helps TCU beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 39-7

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jalen Reagor, TCU‘s leading receiver last season, dropped three passes and muffed two punt returns before making amends late in the third quarter to help the Horned Frogs pull away from Arkansas-Pine Bluff 39-7 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

Reagor ran past Pine Bluff freshman cornerback Jordan Brown at the line of scrimmage to catch a 37-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Max Duggan to give the Horned Frogs a 29-7 lead.

Just prior to Reagor’s touchdown, he muffed a punt that was recovered by Pine Bluff at the TCU 37. That set up the Golden Lions‘ only score, a 1-yard touchdown run by KeShawn Williams that cut TCU’s lead to 22-7. Reagor also muffed a punt inside the 15 in the second quarter, but TCU recovered it.

“We fumbled two punts, and both of them came on punt-safe, so we didn’t even have a return on,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “What Jalen has to learn is it’s a critical play and it can’t always be a great play. You have to get out of the way.

“You guys know how I feel about this. I’m not happy. There’s a bunch of things that need to get fixed. But I think we saw enough that we have the potential to be what we want to be.”

Pine Bluff, an FCS team that finished 2-9 last year, entered the game as a 53-point underdog. But the Golden Lions never appeared overmatched.

TCU debuted two quarterbacks in graduate transfer Alex Delton and Duggan. Delton, who played 14 games with six starts the last two seasons at Kansas State, started but shared time with Duggan.

Delton was more impressive running the ball (67 yards rushing on seven carries) than passing (10 for 22 for 119 yards). Duggan led all three of the Horned Frogs’ touchdown drives and finished 16-for-23 passing for 165 yards.

TCU’s defense was steady, picking off two Pine Bluff passes and forcing 11 punts. The Horned Frogs had five drives stall inside the 20, setting up senior kicker Jonathan Song for a school-record-tying six field goals made. Former TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom also made six field goals Oct. 20, 2012 against Texas Tech.

Senior receiver TreVontae Hights recorded his first 100-yard receiving game for TCU, finishing with eight catches for 108 yards. Hights had only six catches over his first three seasons.

Hights said he was impressed with both of TCU’s new quarterbacks.

“I thought they stayed pretty composed,” Hights said. “I know they’d like to have a few throws back. They kept the offense up. Their leadership was great. I feel comfortable with either one of them.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions, who return 15 starters (nine on offense), didn’t back down. They were within two scores late in the third quarter. Pine Bluff’s defense was particularly strong in the red zone, forcing five field goal attempts.

TCU: This wasn’t a dominant effort by the Horned Frogs against a much inferior opponent. TCU appears to still be trying to find an offensive identity with its quarterback competition, although Duggan was more productive.

UP NEXT

Arkansas-Pine Bluff will open SWAC play next Saturday at Alabama A&M.

TCU has next week off before playing its first road game Sept. 14 at Purdue.