The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


In the driver’s seat

Mustangs take division lead and gain bowl eligibility
Students rush the field at Ford Stadium following the Mustangs win over UTEP.
CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus
Students rush the field at Ford Stadium following the Mustangs’ win over UTEP.

Students rush the field at Ford Stadium following the Mustangs’ win over UTEP. (CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus)

It’s official. The SMU football team is bowl eligible for the fifth time since their last bowl appearance in 1984.

“It’s pretty awesome for the kids,” head coach June Jones said. “They’ve worked hard, and they’ve bought into everything and we find a way to win games and that’s because of the chemistry and the attitude in the locker room.”

The Mustangs (6-4, 5-1) squeaked by The University of Texas at El Paso Miners, 35-31, Saturday afternoon at Ford Stadium, giving SMU their best league start since 1983 when the team started 7-1 in Southwest Conference play.

A win by the Mustangs and a 37-32 loss for nationally-ranked Houston to the University of Central Florida also puts the Mustangs in sole possession of the No.1 spot in the West division of Conference USA. The Mustangs are also tied for the lead in the C-USA with East Carolina University (6-4, 5-1), who leads the East division.

“We really need to focus in because there’s even more distractions,” senior wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “We have to stay as a unit and keep going. Right now we’re sitting in first place and everyone is patting us on the back but we’ve just got to focus.”

With five minutes still left on the clock, the SMU defense tried to the stop the Miners’ offensive surge, but gave up 56 yards in two minutes to put the Miners on the SMU 14. Fans in Ford Stadium watched the second tick by, holding their breath until Taylor Thompson sacked UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe for a loss of seven yards to end the game. At the final buzzer, fans erupted as students rushed to storm the field.

“It was really just digging down deep and getting the extra energy,” Thompson, a junior defensive back said. “I was dead tired and I just knew someone had to make a play to win the game. I just gave it my all.”

“Usually when I get to those kind of points in the game I don’t watch the plays,” Jones said about the final defensive stand. “I wasn’t watching that particular play. I usually just walk around and listen to the crowd. I know if we stopped them or if we gave it up by their sound.”

Freshman quarterback Kyle Padron led the Mustangs. Padron finished the night completing 17 of his 24 passes with four touchdowns, two rushing and two passing, and two interceptions.

“He’s getting better and better,” Jones said about Padron. “I can start to let it loose now because he’s getting better. He did some things tonight really good. He’s trying real hard to do what we ask him to do and I’m just really proud of him.”

Since sophomore quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell injured his shoulder last month against Houston, Jones has been hesitant to call Padron his starter, but says at this point have to lose the job now.

“Right now you just go with the guy that got you to the dance,” Jones said.

On the Miners’ final drive of the first half, junior defensive back Sterling Moore made a tackle in the endzone, injuring his left knee on the play. Moore, out for the season, returned to the field in the second half in a knee brace and on crutches.

“I really feel bad for Sterling Moore,” Jones said. “It’s just heart breaking that he is not going to be able to play the rest of this year. He’s been the difference in so many games for us, that’s a heartbreaking deal.”

Freshman Margus Hunt helped save the game again for SMU with a blocked field goal attempt in the final seconds of the first half to hold SMU’s 21-10 lead. Hunt’s seventh block on the season puts him just one away from the NCAA career record. The 6-foot-8-inch, 278-pound Estonia native is also tied for second in NCAA history with four blocked field goals and three blocked extra points.

Padron, a true freshman, stepped up when it mattered after Donald Buckram ran in a 30-yard pass from Vittatoe to put the Miners at 31-28 late in the fourth. On first and ten at the UTEP 37 with four and a half minutes left, Sanders came up big for the Mustangs, capitalizing on a 134-yard game with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Padron for the final score of the game.

“Emmanuel makes big plays in big games,” Jones said. “Kyle threw a very catchable ball and Emmanuel wasn’t going to be denied. He’s a big player and big players make big plays in big games and that’s what he does.”

SMU will play their final road game of the season on Nov. 21 against the Marshall Herd. Kick off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

“We have two conference games left and we need to focus on those, and if we’re still in that position in two weeks what a thrill that would be,” Jones said.

Freshman defensive lineman Margus Hunt jumps up to block a UTEP field goal during last Saturday’s game. (CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus)

(CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus)

Aldrick Robinson “Ponies Up” while the band plays “The Varsity” after SMU defeated UTEP on Saturday. (CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus)

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