Arlington, Texas • The occasion of BYU's first punt-return touchdown in five years should have been worth celebrating Friday night.
In the end, all JD Falslev did was upgrade BYU's special-teams effort from terrible to merely unacceptable in a 38-28 loss to Texas Christian at Cowboys Stadium.
Two fumbled punt snaps, accounting for 45 yards in losses, led to a pair of TCU touchdowns. In other misadventures, a partially blocked punt gave TCU great field position, the Cougars' failure on a fake field goal cost them a scoring chance and the Frogs' big punt return led to a touchdown just before halftime.
"I hate to say any one particular part of the game changed the outcome, but it certainly controlled field position, which controlled scoring," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "It was frustrating."
The mistakes helped the Cougars fall behind 35-10 midway through the third quarter, and they could not recover.
Technically, Falslev provided the only special-teams score of the night, with his punt return down the right sideline that cut TCU's lead to 35-20. "That almost changed the complexion of the whole game," said TCU coach Gary Patterson.
But the Cougars had hurt themselves so much with those mishandled punt snaps with some combination of the blame going to long snapper Reed Hornung and punter Riley Stephenson that winning this game was too much to ask.
"I can't even describe it," Mendenhall said, addressing his feelings on the subject. "It caught me completely by surprise â¦ because there hadn't been any issues."
The first errant snap was the most costly. The Cougars faced fourth down at their 38-yard line, meaning that TCU figured to take over the ball at about its own 25. Instead, the Horned Frogs took possession at the BYU 4, after the ball skipped past Stephenson and then he kicked it off the ground, resulting in a penalty. TCU quickly scored to take a 14-0 lead.
The Frogs' last three touchdowns of the game also came on drives that began in BYU territory after punts or an attempted punt, in the case of a third-quarter score.