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

SMU slays Blazers with fourth quarter burst

Win puts SMU one away from bowl
SMUs Reynaldo Pellerin tries to break through the tackle of UABs Joe Henderson.
SMU’s Reynaldo Pellerin tries to break through the tackle of UAB’s Joe Henderson.

SMU’s Reynaldo Pellerin tries to break through the tackle of UAB’s Joe Henderson.

SMU’s return to primetime ended like any good network drama – with a large buildup and a big payoff for the viewer.

A Tony Hawkins 11-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed the game for the Mustangs. Hawkins said the defense, “needed a big stop and [they] were able to come through.” Hawkins’ score gave SMU a 22-9 lead they would finish the game with.

The Mustangs are now 5-4 on the season and 4-0 at home. The Mustangs are off this Saturday, but will come back on Nov. 11 to play Houston for SMU Homecoming. A win against the Cougars would make SMU bowl eligible.

After last night’s win head coach Phil Bennett was still unwilling to talk about their prospects of getting to a bowl.

“If we are sitting in here [Nov. 11] and I am in the mood I am right now, then we will talk about it,” he said.

The Mustangs hosted the first Tuesday night football game at Ford Stadium since it opened in 2000 in front of a national television audience on ESPN2.

SMU’s first drive started strong, converting on two third downs, but stalled when Bobby Chase dropped a third down pass forcing the Mustangs to punt.

DeMyron Martin had two carries in the first drive, which were the first times Martin has been on the field at Ford Stadium this season. However, Martin left the game after the first drive of the second half and did not return. Bennett said afterwards that Martin had suffered a bruised elbow and did not know when he would return.

The second Mustang drive stalled on the 38-yard line and SMU was forced to punt. The first quarter saw the Mustang offense run into a brick wall around its own 40-yard line and saw the Mustang defense hold the Blazers to just 28 yards total offense.

The Blazers were able to get on the board first, capitalizing on Mustang mistakes. An interception by Durrell Fuqua at the 50-yard line along with a couple of SMU penalties and short field allowed UAB to get a 25-yard field goal to take the early 3-0 lead.

The Mustangs drove the field and lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt, but an offside penalty against UAB extended the drive allowing Justin Willis to find tight end Vincent Chase in the end zone for Chase’s second reception of the season and his first career touchdown reception.

The Mustangs allowed a quick length of the field drive at the end of the half, and the Blazers took advantage by making a 26-yard field goal to cut the halftime advantage to 7-6.

The Blazers took the ball to start the second half and had a solid drive going until they had to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide left for Waters.

The third quarter saw domination from the UAB offense who gained 105 yards compared to SMU’s 13 yards. But the Mustangs held and didn’t allow any third quarter points. But on the second play of the fourth quarter, UAB tacked on its third field goal of the game, this one was a 40-yarder by Swayze Waters.

After a Willis fumble, the Mustang defense stepped up, which didn’t allow a Blazer first down and gave the Mustangs a chance to take back the lead.

The Mustangs could not take advantage and had to kick the ball back to UAB. But once again the SMU defense forced a three and out. The Mustangs were helped by a costly foul on UAB that negated the roughing the kicker penalty that would have given the Blazers the ball back.

Instead the Mustangs still got the ball and capped off the drive with a 30-yard touchdown run by James Mapps. Mapps said there was only one thing going through his head on that run, “get this into the end zone.”

A circus-like two-point conversion was nabbed by Cedrick Dorsey gave SMU a 15-9 lead and some breathing room.

Then the Mustang defense then came up big again. After two first downs the defense stopped a fourth down attempt and the Mustangs took the ball back.

The next time the Blazers touched the ball it ended up in the hands of Hawkins and put the game out of reach for UAB.

The SMU offense wasn’t as potent as it has been in previous games, but the SMU defense was there to pick up the slack.

Willis was disappointed with his 18 of 23 passing for 148 yards and a touchdown, but he said it helped that “our defense had [his] back tonight.” And ultimately the Mustangs “found a way to win.”

SMU’s DeMyron Martin attempts to get past UAB’s Chris Felder during the first quarter of last night’s game at Ford Stadium.

SMU’s Bryan McCann tackles UAB’s Dan Burks during Tuesday’s game.

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