Max Duggan tried to get through the crunch on the field, but every TCU fan wanted a piece of him.
They wanted to touch his shoulder pads or his red hair, to thank him, to take a picture with him. So many pictures. Adults, students, children. One fan asked Duggan to pose for a picture in front of the scoreboard, and the quarterback held his arms out, basking in the victory and the scene.
TCU 43, Oklahoma State 40 in double overtime, the scoreboard read.
It was the second-largest crowd in the history of Amon G. Carter Stadium, and it felt like all 49,594 were on the field. As Duggan pushed his way through a mob on the field, a police officer stayed behind, just in case. ESPN’s Molly McGrath somehow found Duggan in the mass and conducted a postgame interview. Then he kept walking, kept squeezing through people, kept stopping for pictures before he finally made it to the sideline and found the person he was looking for.
It was Sam, Duggan’s brother, one of two siblings born in South Korea and adopted by Jim and Deb Duggan before Max was born. Sam had tears in his eyes as he crouched atop the sideline wall and embraced his brother.
“Nothing ever gets to him,” an emotional Sam told The Athletic. “He deserves this.”
Duggan started each of the past three years. Two months ago, he was told he’d lost the job. After spring practice, summer workouts and preseason camp, head coach Sonny Dykes and the new staff chose Chandler Morris as the starter. Duggan had started 29 games, but TCU began to fall from its perch in college football, with a 13-16 record in his starts, and he took the blame from fans for inconsistent play. It looked like the end of the road.
Now here was Duggan, the prince of Fort Worth, having led TCU to three consecutive wins against ranked opponents for the first time in school history. Everyone wanted a glimpse of him.
“That’s the reason you stay here,” Duggan said after the game.
One week later, Duggan led another comeback for another win against a ranked team, 38-28 against Kansas State, erasing a 28-10 deficit. A record 6,512 students were in attendance, more than half the student body.