SAN ANTONIO — Thrust into the starting role in place of the suspended star quarterback, TCU’s Bram Kohlhausen made the absolute most of his final chance with the Horned Frogs — in historic fashion.
Not just for his team, but for the family that could join him at the Alamo Bowl and those who couldn’t.
Starting in place of Trevone Boykin, who was suspended after a bar fight two days earlier, Kohlhausen led the No. 11 Horned Frogs back from 31 points down for a 47-41, triple-overtime victory over No. 15 Oregon on Saturday night in the Alamo Bowl.
Kohlhausen passed for 351 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, running in for the winner in the third overtime. The comeback tied the record for the largest deficit overcome to win a bowl game, matching Texas Tech’s win over Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl, and set a TCU school record.
After it was over, Kohlhausen talked stadium security into letting his mother join the celebration on the field. The person not there was his father, Bill, who died Nov. 7 of cancer.
"I just gave her a hug and started crying with her. I’d love for him to be here and watch this happen but I know he’s watching upstairs," Kohlhausen said.
"This will be one I’ll tell my grandkids. This is a night I never thought would happen. I dedicate it to Trey. He showed me how to play like I did tonight."
Kohlhausen, who had played spot duty this season, was thrust into the spotlight on Thursday when Boykin was arrested and suspended after a bar fight in San Antonio’s famed River Walk district.
Kohlhausen started his career at Houston, left for junior college and walked on at TCU (11-2). He had never started a major college game until his final one and did his best to mimic Boykin, especially in the second half with tough runs and pinpoint passing as TCU stormed back. He twice came back from hard hits that forced him out of the game.
"I told him, I said, ‘Can you imagine — your dad passed away, he’s watching, can you imagine if you come back? Can you come back, can you win this football game?"’ TCU coach Gary Patterson said.
It didn’t look possible when Oregon (9-4) was rolling to a 28-0 lead behind standout senior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., and led 31-0 at halftime.
Adams passed for 197 yards and a touchdown and led the Ducks on four consecutive touchdown drives, eluding sacks and throwing downfield as Oregon rolled early.
But Oregon stopped in its tracks when Adams was hurt on a rare called run for him. Adams knocked heads with TCU linebacker Derrick Kindred, left the game and never returned.
Jeff Lockie drove Oregon to a field goal that made it 31-0 at halftime, but the Ducks stalled there.
TCU scored on all of its possessions in the second half and overtime..
The Horned Frogs started their march back with 17 points in the third quarter, twice scoring touchdowns on fourth down. Kohlhausen threw a touchdown pass to Jaelen Austin, then ran 2 yards for his first score.
"Nobody had any doubt we’d come back from 31 points," Kohlhausen said. "Their quarterback out, get a couple scores, nobody had any doubt."
TCU was gaining confidence with each play while Oregon seemed stuck in neutral. Lockie, who had played in relief of Adams when he was injured earlier this season, couldn’t move the offence as the TCU-dominated crowd of nearly 65,000 revved up.
"This whole year, especially on the defensive side, it’s been a struggle in the second half to finish games," Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner said.
Jaden Oberkrom’s 22-yard field goal with 19 seconds left tied it, and TCU scored first in the first overtime when Kohlhausen hit Emanauel Porter for a 7-yard touchdown. Oregon answered with Royce Freeman’s third touchdown run.
After the teams exchanged field goals in the second overtime, Kohlhausen sneaked around the right end on an option, and seemingly disappeared behind his blockers until he was in the end zone. TCU’s 2-point conversion pass attempt failed, but Oregon’s final chance to tie and keep the game going ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down near the goal line.
TCU players stormed the field when the game was over.
"Tough to end like this," Oregon coach March Helfrich said. "They made one more play that we did."