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

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Mustangs pull away, beat UConn

Mustangs wide receiver Jeremy Johnson #15 is tackled by Huskies linebacker Ryan Donohue #52. (RYAN MILLER / The Daily Campus)


Trying to collect their fourth win of the season, SMU took on the winless University of Connecticut on Saturday at Gerald Ford Stadium.

Down by 10, UConn took over with 3:50 remaining in the game and a comeback on their minds. Quarterback Casey Cochran barely avoided a sack before throwing a pick-six to Stephon Sanders. That put the score at 38-21.

“It was just playing defense like how we’ve been practicing,” Sanders said. “We actually had a fire zone on there, and I knew, like, when we have a fire zone on, the ball comes out quick, and that is exactly what happened so we got to stay in our coverage, and everybody did their job. It was just the whole defense executing their plays, and the result was a touchdown, which is what we needed.”

Donning their new red helmets, SMU got off to a slow start offensively. The Mustang defense, however, was able to prevent UConn from getting into a groove offensively.

Following a missed 42-yard field goal from Connecticut, Garrett Gilbert connected with Keenan Holman for a leaping 1-yard touchdown reception. Gilbert showed off his wheels on a 23-yard run to set up
the touchdown.

The Mustang defense was able to follow up by holding UConn to 14 yards before the SMU offense took over again.

Then, with a 12 play, 80-yard drive, Gilbert completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Johnson. With that pass, SMU took a 14-0 lead.

Looking to keep it close, though, UConn followed that drive up with a 75-yard touchdown drive of its own. With a methodical drive, the Huskies scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by Max DeLorenzo bringing the score to 14-7.

With 2:28 remaining in the first half, SMU took over looking to take a two-possession lead.

Gilbert completed the final four passes of the half to Johnson, including a 5-yard touchdown reception that gave the Mustangs a 21-7 lead going into the half.

“They were playing a lot of cover-4, so they weren’t allowing me to get on top,” Johnson said. I caught a lot of underneath routes, and I think they did a good job with not letting us get deep at all, really.”

The SMU offense struggles to find a groove to start the second half, and UConn looked to take advantage of that.

On the second drive of the half for the Huskies, with UConn taking the ball 62 yards, Cochran completed a fourth-down pass to Geremy Davis for the touchdown. That score brought UConn within one possession at 21-14.

SMU finally got the offense going with 1:03 remaining in the third quarter. Gilbert opened the drive with a 54-yard pass to Der’rikk Thompson, and — using the hurry-up offense — followed with a 20-yard touchdown catch-and-run to Holman.

“It’s a huge product of how much work, again as an offensive unit, that we put in,” Gilbert said, “From last year, about midway through the season, as I feel like we started to get comfortable with one another on into the spring, again, the work that my receivers and the offensive line, out there every day putting in extra work, continuing to get better. That’s where that all comes from.”

The Huskies, looking to keep the score close, followed that up with a touchdown drive of their own. Cochran completed an impressive 25-yard catch to Davis for the touchdown to bring the score to 28-21.

Late in the fourth, SMU took over the ball at UConn’s 43-yard line, following a poor punt by Cole Wagner. However, the Mustangs were only able to turn that into a 27-yard field goal by Chase Hover.

With very little hope of a comeback, Cochran threw an interception to Darrion Richardson, which iced the game for SMU.

“We won, that was good,” Head Coach June Jones said. “Made it, as we always do, a little harder than it is supposed to be, but playing in this new conference, these teams, regardless of what their record is are big and fast, and they are more physical, I think, than what we have been playing against, so we have to do everything right, and I am proud of Garrett [Gilbert]. I thought the [offensive] line, with the size and their front four, I thought throwing the ball 52 times, they competed pretty hard.”

After picking up the fourth win of the season, SMU will travel to play the University of South Florida Saturday for a 6 p.m. faceoff. USF is 2-6, and the Mustangs will look to take their fifth win of the season.

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