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


Mustangs strike gold against Miners

Photo by Christina Parrish, The Daily Campus
Mustangs strike gold against Miners

Mustangs strike gold against Miners (Photo by Christina Parrish, The Daily Campus)

The Mustang football team (5-6, 4-4 C-USA) gave fans a performance to be thankful for over the holiday weekend. Against the favored University of Texas-El Paso Miners (8-3, 5-3 C-USA) Saturday at Ford Stadium, SMU came back from a one-point halftime deficit to finish the season with a 40-27 win.

Following victories over Rice and the University of Houston, this marks the Mustangs’ first three-game winning streak since 1999. In addition, the team posted its best record since going 6-5 in 1997.

“This was a defining moment for our football team,” said head coach Phil Bennett. “It’s just a shame that we’re not playing for the championship.”

After surrendering a first-quarter touchdown to UTEP running back Marcus Thomas, SMU cut the Miners’ lead to 7-6 when senior Chris McMurtray hit field goals of 29 yards and 23 yards.

McMurtray gave the Mustangs their first lead with a 22-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Down 9-7, UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer hit Thomas for a 75-yard touchdown. Although Palmer completed 27 of 44 passes for three touchdowns in the game, he also tossed four interceptions against the SMU defense.

“[Palmer] had a rough game,” said UTEP head coach Mike Price in a post-game press release, “and he will come back and have better ones. Certainly this wasn’t one of his better games.”

Less than a minute after the Miners scored, SMU quarterback Jerad Romo found wide receiver Reynaldo Pellerin for a 34-yard touchdown.

With 2:31 left in the third quarter, wide receiver Bobby Chase caught Romo’s 29-yard pass amid UTEP defenders. The ball was knocked into the air after the reception, but Chase recovered and found his way to the end zone to give SMU a 22-13 lead. The play was seen on national sports highlight reels Saturday night.

In the third quarter, the Mustangs racked up three touchdowns and outscored the Miners, 24-6.

“They didn’t expect us to be in it at the half,” Romo said, “but we just kept attacking.”

Although the Miners finished with more total yards on offense, they turned the ball over seven times and SMU recorded five sacks on Palmer.

“We wanted to get turnovers and play good red zone defense,” Bennett said. “I’m very pleased with the way our players played.”

Defensively, Bennett was happy to see younger players step up in key situations.

Junior Adrian Haywood forced two fumbles and intercepted one of Palmer’s passes, and Monday he was named the Conference-USA Player of the Week.

Sophomore Cory Muse forced one fumble and recovered three in what he called “by far the biggest game” of his collegiate career.

After the game, coach Bennett said the team has “improved dramatically” this season, though there is still work to be done.

“We’re playing as good as any team in Conference-USA,” he said. “Today was great motivation for our players – but we’ve got to take this program to another level.”

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