By Phil Mayer
SMU couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Cornerback Jordan Wyatt intercepted Phillip Walker’s third pass of the game, and brought it to the end zone giving SMU a 7-0 lead just 55 seconds in.
But the hot start didn’t last long.
Temple (3-2, 1-0 American) scored the next 35 points, jumping out to a lead that proved to be insurmountable.
SMU’s poor play started (2-3, 0-1 American) after Temple’s second offensive possession in the game.
The Mustangs forced a three-and-out but Temple’s punt hit off of the leg of SMU special teamer Christian Burks. Temple recovered the ball– regaining possession. The Owls scored on Jahad Thomas’ touchdown run, the first of his two.
Temple’s top two backs, Ryquell Armstead and Thomas, combined to run for 239 yards and four touchdowns. SMU held Walker to just seven completions on 18 attempts, intercepting him twice.
SMU’s first two offensive drives netted a total of one yard with Ben Hicks intercepting the third. The Mustangs did not score again until Hicks found Jeremiah Gaines for a 13-yard touchdown with 5:29 left in the second quarter. It was SMU’s first receiving touchdown by a player other than Courtland Sutton all season.
Hicks continued to struggle throughout the game, completing 22 passes on 42 attempts for 199 yards to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He didn’t get help from his offensive line, who were getting beat constantly, leading to Hicks taking some nasty hits.
In the second quarter, Hicks left the game for a series on one of those shots. Freshman running back Ke’Mon Freeman, a former high school quarterback, took his place. Freeman mostly ran zone-reads, but did throw two passes, both of which fell incomplete.
Sutton had his lowest receiving total of the season, with four catches for 43 yards. Xavier Castille led the Mustangs in receiving yards, with 72 on five catches. James Proche had a team-high six catches and caught his first career touchdown.
Despite the return of running back Xavier Jones, the Mustang rushing attack gained 89 yards on 32 attempts. Freeman, who ran from both the quarterback and running back positions, gained 49 of them. Jones had not played since the season-opening win at North Texas on Sept. 3.
SMU travels to Tulsa for a game next week on Oct. 7.