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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Mustangs get bye week after overtime loss to UTEP

SMU running back James Mapps (No. 20) tries to get past UTEP defensive back Cornelius Brown (No. 47) during the first quarter of Saturdays game.
John Schreiber
SMU running back James Mapps (No. 20) tries to get past UTEP defensive back Cornelius Brown (No. 47) during the first quarter of Saturday’s game.

SMU running back James Mapps (No. 20) tries to get past UTEP defensive back Cornelius Brown (No. 47) during the first quarter of Saturday’s game. (John Schreiber)

It is either the best week for a bye, or the worst week for a bye. Coming off a 48-45 overtime loss to UTEP, the Mustangs have a lot of questions to answer.

And when the team has leads of 28-7 and 42-28, most of the questions land on the defense.

“We tackled very poorly and had poor fits defensively,” head coach Phil Bennett said. “A lot of the yards were after contact – we didn’t wrap up.”

Two UTEP players rushed for over 100 yards in the game, with Marcus Thomas leading the way with 207 yards and Lorne Sam with 106 yards.

The Mustangs’ offense was solid through three quarters of football.

“I put this entire game, the end of the game on the offensive line and myself,” Ben Poynter, senior offensive lineman and captain said. “There is no other excuse for what happened.”

The Mustangs rushed for 169 yards in the first half, just 88 yards in the second half and just 13 yards in the fourth quarter. In the fourth, the Miners erased a 42-28 deficit and forced the game into overtime.

Not only did the run offense diminish, but the run defense also fell apart. The Mustangs allowed just 108 rushing yards in the first half, but that number increased to 200 yards in the second half.

The crucial turning points in the game were at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.

The Mustangs were coming off a quick touchdown, a Wilton McCray 23-yard touchdown return, that gave SMU a 28-7 lead with just under three minutes left. In under two minutes the Mustangs’ defense allowed the Miners to go 65 yards in just seven plays for a touchdown and cut the lead to 14.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. The Mustangs had the ball with just under a minute and an offense that had been able to drive down the field. But after two running plays had diminished the clock, the Mustangs were forced into a third down passing situation.

The pass play was a 50-yard completion to Zack Sledge. The clock expired and the half ended. Bennett felt there should be at least one second left on the clock allowing another play. The refs didn’t want to hear it and tacked on a 15-yard penalty that would be assessed on the kickoff to start the second half.

The Mustangs were then set to receive the kick, but it was an onside attempt from UTEP.

“We were ready for the flip (onside) kick,” Bennett said. “We had our tallest guy there and we knew it, we called it and it just went off his hands.”

There were a lot of things that went through the Mustangs’ hands on Saturday: the ball, the opposing offense and possibly the season.

“I think you would have to put an asterisk on this [loss], because I thought we had opportunities to really put the game away and we didn’t do it,” Bennett said.

The Mustangs will have a lot to work on in the bye week. When SMU returns to the field it will be against conference favorite Southern Miss in Hattiesburg.

To see Rating the Mustangs online visit smudailycampus.com.

UTEP running back Marcus Thomas (No. 8) jumps into the endzone past SMU’s Brandon Jones (No. 22) during overtime to ensure a UTEP victory. (John Schreiber)

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