Sacking of the Temple


In a shootout as wild as any in school history, the SMU Mustangs (3-4 overall, 2-1 in American Athletic Conference play) used another record-breaking performance by senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert and company to defeat the Temple University Owls (1-7 overall, 0-4 in AAC play), 59-49.

No one in the history of SMU football has accounted for more yards than Gilbert did Saturday, as the Lake Travis-native piled up 538 passing yards, 97 rushing yards and six touchdowns. It also marks the seventh highest yardage total in NCAA history, according to SMU Athletics.

Down by as many as 21 points midway through the second quarter, the Mustangs began to settle down and use their explosive passing attack to cut the deficit and eventually take back the lead.

Coming out of the halftime break, SMU had regained a bit of confidence after scoring on its final possession of the second quarter by way of a 19-yard pass from Gilbert to wide receiver Keenan Holman, but was still down by 14. The defense made a quick stop and gave the ball back to the Mustang offense in less than a minute to spark the comeback and an offensive clinic.

Gilbert was without his favorite target of the season, wide receiver Jeremy Johnson, after the senior had suffered a concussion late in the first half, but the quarterback began spreading the ball around to the likes of Holman and Der’rikk Thompson.

The two receivers were actually part of the same touchdown catch early in the third quarter, as Gilbert’s pass to Holman was nearly dropped, but quickly recovered by Thompson who ran it in from about seven yards away to cut the Owls’ lead to just seven.

With Johnson out, both of the upperclassmen receivers needed to step up if SMU was going to have a chance, and that’s exactly what they did. Holman finished the afternoon with 10 catches for 209 yards and three scores, while Thompson had nine for 158 and the circus catch of a touchdown in the third.

SMU took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard plunge into the end zone by first-year running back Prescott Line. Line had a solid outing himself, running for 41 yards and the score in place of an injured Traylon Shead. The junior Shead badly injured his leg in the first half and had to be carted off the field.

From that point on, the offensive side of the ball was dominated by the Mustangs, who outscored the Owls 48 to 21 in the second half alone, and did it with a defense that began to figure out how to stop Temple’s first-year quarterback, P.J. Walker.

Walker started the game red hot, completing each of his first 14 passes in the first 30 minutes of play, but was held to just 12 of his next 23. By no means was the SMU defense as stalwart as it needs to be for this team to make a bowl game, but the second half showed what they can do when their backs are against the wall.

The Mustangs will need to find a way to keep their second-half momentum going into a pivotal matchup in Cincinnati against the Bearcats Nov. 9.

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