- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Vernon Adams Jr. had stepped into the shoes of a Heisman Trophy winner this season and was eager for his last chance to showcase what he could do.

But his Alamo Bowl lasted only about 25 minutes before the senior quarterback was knocked from the game after a violent hit to the head. He never returned and Oregon squandered a 31-point lead as TCU stormed back to win 47-41 in triple overtime Saturday night.

TCU’s school-record comeback also matched tied the record for a bowl game, matching Texas Tech in the 2006 Insight Bowl against Minnesota.

For Oregon (9-4), the single game was a perfect reflection of the entire season. When the Ducks had Adams, they could be fast, confident and spectacular. Without him, they could be dismal.

Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to replace Marcus Mariota, who led the Ducks to the national title game last season. And with Adams eluding pass rushers and throwing perfect strikes downfield, the Ducks stormed to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter with touchdowns on four straight possessions.

One collision changed everything.

Adams turned up field on a rare called run for him and smashed head-on into TCU linebacker Derrick Kindred. Adams stayed down for several minutes before eventually walking off the field and to the locker room.

He didn’t return, but the lead seemed safe. Jeff Lockie, who had played earlier this season when Adams broke a finger, drove Oregon to a late field goal that made it 31-0.

Oregon players insisted they didn’t think the game was over.

“I didn’t take it as a 30-point lead or anything like that,” Oregon running back Royce Freeman. “I took it as 0-0.”

But everything changed in the second half. Adams had passed for 197 yards in the first half, but the Ducks managed just 18 total yards in the third and fourth quarters.

TCU (11-2) rallied behind quarterback Bram Kohlhausen, who shook off a tough first half to throw for 351 yards, pass for two touchdowns and run for two more. Kohlhausen’s last touchdown, an 8-yard run in the third overtime, was the game winner.

“Very disappointed for our guys, not disappointed in our guys one bit,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “To end it this way is tough.”

TCU scored on all of its possessions in the second half and overtime.

“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.

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.

TCU was gaining confidence with each play while Oregon seemed stuck in neutral. Lockie couldn’t move the offense as the TCU-dominated crowd of nearly 65,000 revved up. Several times, Oregon struggled to snap the ball to him, forcing Lockie to reach low as the ball skipped on the ground.

That recurring problem proved costly when Lockie touched his knee to the ground, ending a play and wiping out a touchdown completion that could have stemmed the TCU rally.

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.

“Our guys believed until the end, they fought until the end. They were emotional,” Helfrich said. “We got beat.”

___

AP College Football website: collegefootball.ap.org

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