Mustangs bowl bound
SMU defeats C-USA powerhouse Tulsa in thriller
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012 19:11
SMU’s bowl season hopes came down to the final play with a Hail Mary pass to the end zone from Tulsa quarterback Cody Green that was caught just short of the goal line setting off a celebration in Ford Stadium.
SMU held off the last minute effort to win 35-27.
“It took everybody today. We were kind of beat up and scrambling to find a way to make a first down to keep them off the field, but we found a way to win and it’s an awesome feeling,” SMU head coach June Jones said.
Behind big play after big play, SMU was able to build a big lead against the C-USA West division champions on Senior Day at Ford Stadium. In the team’s last game as members of Conference USA, the Mustangs beat a heavy favorite and became bowl eligible for the fourth straight year breaking the school record.
“I think ending the streak by far was the top, but this one seals it. It puts the exclamation point on my career here,” SMU linebacker Ja’Gared Davis said.
SMU continued to force turnovers at home by causing two fumbles and intercepting Tulsa quarterback Green once. Davis blocked a punt, recovered a fumble, had an interception and had three tackles for loss. SMU’s offense was able to score three touchdowns off of Davis’ forced turnovers.
“He was everywhere. He did it all today,” Jones said of Davis.
SMU made things happen on special teams when the Mustangs blocked a late first quarter punt by the Hurricane and Derek Longoria recovered it on the Tulsa 3-yard line. Running back Zach Line made the first of his three touchdowns when he ran it in after the block.
Line finished with 92 yards on 23 carries in his final game at Ford Stadium. Line is currently ranked second all-time at SMU in rushing yardage behind Eric Dickerson, but with a great bowl game performance, Line could pass Dickerson.
The Mustangs scored first with Line’s run. Over the past two seasons, SMU is now 14-0 when scoring first and 0-13 when their opponent scores first.
After the first score, SMU kept the pressure on Tulsa in the first half. Line added another touchdown run in the second quarter after a fumble recovery in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Garrett Gilbert later found Der’rikk Thompson at the front pylon on a tremendous throw for a 31-yard touchdown pass.
Tulsa was able to answer this score with one of its own to make it 21-6 after a missed extra point.
Jones answered with his best call of the day: a quarterback draw by Gilbert that went 74 yards on the score to make it 28-7 at the half.
“He’s been doing a good job running the ball the last four or five weeks. We guessed right so that was pretty good,” Jones said.
Afterwards SMU came out and Line scored another touchdown after a seven-minute drive in the third, but Tulsa mounted a furious comeback by scoring 21 unanswered points. Green led the way by passing for 413 yards and three touchdowns with 64 attempts on the day.
Tulsa scored its final touchdown with 5:05 left to play in the game and SMU took the ball and kept it until the Mustangs were forced to punt with 58 seconds left.
Punter Mike Loftus nailed a punt down at the Tulsa six-yard line and Tulsa was pinned without any timeouts.
Tulsa did manage to hit a few pass plays and get the ball to the SMU 35-yard line. With one second left, Jordan James caught a Hail Mary on the one-yard line, but Jay Scott and Taylor Reed were there to force him back sending Ford Stadium into a frenzy.
SMU will now wait to find out who it will play in the bowl season.
Many are speculating that SMU will head to the Hawaii Bowl. SMU finished the regular season 6-6 and 5-3 in C-USA play. The loss was Tulsa’s first of the season in C-USA play.