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



Cougars intercept Mustang’s bid for 3-0

Saturday had the potential to be the first time SMU would win its first three games since receiving the death penalty. However, the SMU football team (2-1, 1-0 C-USA) was unable to hold its three score third quarter lead and eventually fell to the Washington State Cougars (1-2, 0-1 Pac-10) 30-27 in overtime.

The first half was marked by high flying passes and a stalwart defensive effort. The first two possessions of the game included the defense forcing a punt, and the SMU offense driving 80 yards on the back of quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s 46 yard touchdown completion to wide receiver Terrance Wilkerson.

After trading possessions twice with the Cougars, the Mustangs would score on their next two possessions. After Matt Szymanski’s field goal in the first minute of the second quarter, running back Zach Line would cap a 93 yard drive with a short-yardage touchdown run.

At this point, the Mustangs were leading the Cougars by 17 points in the second quarter. For the second week in a row, the Mustangs had a three possession lead. However, just like in the game against UAB, holding onto the lead proved problematic for the Mustangs.

Head coach June Junes described how the Mustangs “have to learn to play when [they’re] in the lead.” While staying upbeat, Jones explained that learning to play with the lead “comes from these types of experiences.”

After allowing a score towards the end of the quarter, the Mustangs entered the locker room with a 17-7 halftime lead. SMU had not committed a turnover in the first 30 minutes of play.

The Mustang’s first drive in the second half would come to characterize what caused the three score lead to evaporate in the first quarter. As the Mustangs were driving down the field, running back Shawnbrey McNeal fumbled the ball on the Cougars’ 34 yard-line.

The defense responded when senior linebacker Chase Kennemer intercepted a pass at midfield, giving the offense another chance. The offense bounced back by mounting another scoring drive that ended with another Wilkerson touchdown.

As the third quarter was drawing to a close, the Mustang’s lead and efficiency would start to unravel.

On 3rd and eight with just over a minute left in the quarter, Mitchell would make his first mistake of the game in the form of an interception thrown to Cougars linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis. Hoffman-Ellis would return the ball 52 yards for a touchdown, leaving the Cougars down 24-13.

While the score was close at this point, the statistics were not. SMU had dominated the Cougars on both sides of the ball through three quarters. They had put up over 400 yards of offense and allowed only 208. The defense also made significant progress on its goal of improving third-down efficiency by allowing the Cougars to convert only three of 12 third-downs.

After converting another field goal, the Mustangs would force their second turnover of the game which turned the ball over to the offense on the Cougars’ 36 yard-line. After two incomplete passes, Mitchell would throw his second interception while under pressure to Myron Beck, which was returned 67 yards for a touchdown.

On the next possession, the Mustangs drove back down to the Cougars 18 yard-line before Mitchell’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Jones. The Mustangs were able to weather this turnover by forcing a punt.

However, with two minutes left, the Mustangs were forced to punt and the defense was forced to defend the Cougars two minute drill. After forcing a fourth down, the Mustangs looked like they might get off the field until Sterling Moore was flagged for pass interference.

The Cougars would not need any more help as they drove the rest of the way to force overtime.

In overtime, the Mustangs got possession first. On the first play of the drive, Mitchell’s deep pass was intercepted in the end zone. After gaining three yards on three plays, the Cougars’ Nico Grasu nailed a 39-yard field goal to win the game.

While the turnovers undoubtedly crushed the Mustangs chances of starting 3-0, Jones was still positive about the Mustangs season and Mitchell at quarterback. “Obviously, he [Mitchell] is as disappointed as we are. But, he did a lot of good things and he made a lot of good throws. He just has to eliminate the turnovers.”

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