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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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Mustangs sink Pirates 45-38 in overtime, securing conference championship berth

The SMU Mustangs clinched a spot in the Conference USA Championship Game by becoming Western Division Champions after a thrilling 45-38 overtime victory over East Carolina on Friday afternoon.

The win moved SMU to 7-5 overall and 6-2 in conference play.

“We set a goal for ourselves 10 months ago to be conference champions and at it did not look like we were going to have a chance to do it, but the kids kept believing and kept hanging in,” SMU head Coach June Jones said.

The Mustangs had to claw their way back into the game after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter.

The Pirates took the 14 point advantage after a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs by running back Jon Williams.

SMU finally got on the board early in the 2nd quarter with a 28 yard field goal by Matt Szymanski after an 18-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up nearly nine minutes of the clock.

The Mustangs scored again just before halftime to cut the deficit to 4 when quarterback Kyle Padron threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keenan Holman.

On SMU’s opening second half possession, Padron connected with wide receiver Aldrick Robinson for 35 yards which led to a 6-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Cole Beasley. Beasley’s score gave the Mustangs their first lead of the day, 17-14.

The Mustang defense stepped up  big later in the third quarter and forced a key turnover.

SMU defensive lineman Szymon Czerniak jarred the ball loose during a run, and linebacker Ja’Gared Davis scooped it up and ran 33 yards for a touchdown.

The Pirates responded on their ensuing possession when kicker Matt Barbour split the uprights from 33 yards out.

However, Padron came right back and found Robinson on another deep ball. This time the end result was a 53-yard touchdown which putContinued from page 1

the Mustangs up 31-17 heading into the fourth quarter.

Padron finished the day with 331-yards passing and three touchdowns.

Both teams exchanged touchdowns to begin the final quarter.

First, Pirate quarterback Dominique Davis tossed a 16-yard touchdown to wide receiver Lance Lewis.

Then, SMU running back Zach Line gave the Mustangs a 38-24 advantage after a 5-yard touchdown run.

Trailing by 14 with nine minutes remaining in the game, East Carolina needed to mount a quick comeback.

Facing this adverse situation, Davis, the Pirates unquestioned leader, scrambled for a 9-yard touchdown to cut the lead down to seven.

The junior quarterback then found Lewis in the end zone again with 12 seconds left on the clock. Davis’ touchdown pass tied the game 38-38 and forced overtime.

The Mustangs lost the coin flip and began overtime on offense. After a couple of completions to Beasley, Line cashed in on a 1-yard touchdown plunge.

Beasley led the Mustangs in receptions with nine for 118 yards and one touchdown while Line led SMU in rushing with 123-yards and two touchdowns on the day.

“The fact that we scored a touchdown and got the ball first makes a huge difference because we put the pressure right back on them,” Jones said. “It made them be more aggressive.”

SMU’s defense returned the favor as cornerback Richard Crawford intercepted a Davis pass to put an end to a wild high scoring affair.

The interception was Crawford’s team­,leading fourth of the season.

“[Crawford] is a smart player and he jumped it,” Jones said. “It was great to see him make that play.”

SMU linebacker Pete Fleps was also solid on defense for the Mustangs. The senior led the team with 18 tackles which bumps his season total up to 111.

SMU will take on Central Florida in the Conference USA Championship Game in Orlando at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

This weekend’s game will be televised nationally on either ESPN or ESPN 2.

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