Max Duggan threw three touchdown passes Saturday afternoon and ran for a fourth, and the Texas Christian defense stopped California on a potential game-tying, 2-point conversion as the host Horned Frogs pulled out a 34-32 nonconference win.
Seeking to bounce back from a season-opening home loss to Nevada, Cal (0-2) scored the game’s first 12 points and led 19-7 late in the second quarter before Duggan and the TCU offense got rolling.
The Horned Frogs (2-0) got back within five on a 51-yard run by Zach Evans with 11 seconds remaining in the half and took their first lead on a Duggan 18-yard pass to Quentin Johnston in the third quarter.
Damien Moore gave Cal its last lead on a 12-yard touchdown run with 11:37 remaining in the game. But Duggan connected with Johnston again, this time from 45 yards out, to put the Horned Frogs back in front, and then ran 9 yards for the touchdown that extended the TCU lead to 34-26 lead with 5:47 to go.
Chase Garbers, who threw for 309 yards and two scores, then drove Cal quickly down the field, leading to a 1-yard TD run by Moore to get the Golden Bears within two with still 4:09 to play.
Cal went for the tie, but Moore was stopped just short of the goal line. Even though his fumble into the end zone was recovered by a teammate, by rule the ball was returned to where Moore had been tackled, and that was short of the goal line.
TCU was then able to run out the game’s final 4:09, with Duggan hitting Taye Barber for a key first down and later converting a second on a 6-yard run, denying Cal a final possession.
Duggan, who threw an interception that Cal’s Daniel Scott returned for a second-quarter touchdown, finished 17-for-31 for 234 yards.
Evans was the game’s leading rusher with 183 yards on 22 carries, while Johnston led TCU receivers with five catches for 95 yards.
Moore had a team-high 71 rushing yards for Cal, while wideout Trevon Clark turned two catches into a game-high 122 yards and a score, which opened the game’s scoring from 54 yards out in the first quarter.
Facing Cal for the first time since a 10-7 overtime win in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl, TCU outgained the visitors 498-442.
–Field Level Media