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


SMU falls to JMU in heartbreaking fashion

SMU lines up against James Madison Photo credit: Ryan Miller
SMU WR Courtland Sutton looks down in disappointment after the Mustangs fell to JMU Photo credit: Ryan Miller

The SMU Mustangs fell to the James Madison Dukes 48-45 on Saturday night at Ford Stadium in SMU’s homecoming game.

The Dukes started with a dominant first drive, opening up gaping holes in the run game and marching down the field for a touchdown. A 5-yard run by quarterback Vad Lee capped off the 8-play scoring drive.

Two possessions later, SMU tied the game up on a 6-yard touchdown run by Xavier Jones. The score was set up by a 51-yard reception by the Mustangs’ emerging star Courtland Sutton.

James Madison responded with a 14-play drive that ended in a 36-yard field goal. The first quarter came to a close with the Dukes up 10-7.

On their first possession of the second quarter, the Dukes scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by Cardon Johnson, making it 17-7. After an SMU punt, James Madison was stuffed on a fourth and one run on the Mustangs’ 29-yard line.

The two teams traded turnovers on the next two possessions. SMU quarterback Matt Davis fumbled at the end of a long scramble on third and long. Then, JMU gave it right back with an interception caused by miscommunication between Lee and one of his receivers. SMU defensive back Jesse Montgomery came up with the pick.

Starting on the JMU 48-yard line, the Mustangs took advantage of good field position and scored a touchdown one minute before the half. The 6-play 52-yard drive capped off by another Xavier Jones touchdown run was once again set up by a long reception by Sutton. JMU took a 17-14 lead into the half.

The story of the first half was JMU’s ability to run the ball. The Duke’s had 208 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, taking advantage of huge holes in the SMU defense.

Vad Lee threw another interception, this time to Anthony Rhone, on the third play of the second half. SMU scored on the ensuing play on a 36-yard Braedon West run, making it 21-17 Mustangs.

Both teams punted on their next possessions. JMU scored on a 40-yard touchdown run by Vad Lee midway through the third quarter. The Dukes added a 22-yard field goal just minutes later after another Matt Davis fumble.

Two penalties on the ensuing kickoff totaling 30 yards set the Mustangs up with good field position and led to a Chad Hedlund 52-yard field goal. JMU’s Lee found Brandon Ravenel for a 58-yard touchdown on the next possession, putting the Dukes up 34-24.

The Mustangs’ responded quickly. Matt Davis scrambled for 35 yards and then found Sutton for a 29-yard touchdown on the next play. James Madison went three and out and punted it back to SMU. The Dukes had a 34-31 lead at the end of the third quarter.

With 12:30 left in the fourth, Lee found tight end Deane Cheatham for a 52-yard touchdown to extend the Dukes’ lead to 41-31. SMU punted on their next possession but defensive back Jordan Wyatt came up with a key interception off a deflected pass to keep the Mustangs’ alive.

SMU marched down the field and Matt Davis scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown with 3:58 remaining in the game. A perfectly executed onside kick got the Mustangs the ball back on their own 48-yard line.

The Mustangs executed a 4-play drive that ended in 19-yard scramble by Matt Davis for a touchdown, putting SMU up 45-41 with 2:04 to go.

JMU responded with an 8-play 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead. Lee found John Miller wide open in the end zone for a 17-yard score with 27 seconds left on the clock.

Matt Davis scrambled for 16 yards after a touchback. His Hail Mary pass attempt fell short as time expired but a roughing-the-passer penalty allowed for a last chance. Davis aired it out in the direction of Courtland Sutton but the pass was broken up in the end zone.

James Madison racked up 729 yards of offense including 440 on the ground. SMU was unable to stop Vad Lee, who ran for 276 yards and two touchdowns and threw for an additional 289 yards and three touchdowns. The three touchdown passes went to three different receivers.

JMU quarterback Vad Lee scrambling for a first down against SMU Photo credit: Ryan Miller

The Mustangs had 494 yards of offense split almost evenly between rushing and passing. Matt Davis led the Mustangs in rushing for the eleventh straight game dating back to last season, totaling 95 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his 262 yards and touchdown through the air. Courtland Sutton was his favorite target again, leading the receivers in receptions (5), yards (137), and touchdowns (1).

SMU quarterback Matt Davis throwing a pass to wide receiver Courtland Sutton against JMU Photo credit: Ryan Miller

“We felt that winning feeling so we are motivated – definitely motivated. We’ve tasted this three too many times this year, so we are going to get this stuff corrected. We lacked energy coming out and I think we were flat offensively. We will fix that and we will be alright,” said Davis.

“We didn’t help ourselves in a lot of areas,” said SMU head coach Chad Morris. “We just have glaring weaknesses right now and they show up every week,” he continued. “I was very proud of our players. Even though down, they never gave in, they kept battling back – fighting back,” said Morris. The first year head coach also said, “I was very proud of our student body. They were into the game and they had every right not to be into the game at times.”

SMU (1-3) will open conference play against East Carolina next Saturday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. at Ford Stadium.

More to Discover