SMU beats Montana State 31-30

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SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert (11) engineered a game winning drive in SMU’s 31-30 win over MSU. (Courtesy of Douglas Fejer)

SMU avoided a disaster when quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Darius Joseph with 12 seconds left to give SMU the 31-30 win over FCS Montana State.

Montana State led for almost the entire game and was even up 22-5 at one point before SMU scored two touchdowns in the final 5:12 of the first half including a dazzling 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by true first-year JaBryce Taylor as the time expired in the first half.

“It was a big play. I was thinking big return and I was getting the field goal team ready so if he had a big return, as we didn’t have a timeout, we would have had to run the field goal team on. But then he took it to the house, so that saved that problem,” SMU head coach, June Jones said.

“You have to have players make plays and he as a true [first-year] who got in there, caught the ball under pressure and did some good things. He’s a great kid and really good football player.”

At the start of the third quarter the Bobcats responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, but SMU answered with a field goal. It was the defense, though, that buckled down for the rest of the game, holding Montana State scoreless the rest of
the game.

SMU was able to continue its comeback with another field goal in the fourth quarter by Chase Hover, who had three for the game, and then Gilbert capped off the comeback with his touchdown pass to Joseph.

Gilbert was under pressure for most of the game again, being sacked four times, but completed 35-of-48 passes for 317 yards and one touchdown. During the game, Gilbert did a solid job and displayed some toughness after a few hits.

“Watching him tonight, he stood in there a little bit more then he has in previous games. Even the very long throw that he completed to Jeremy [Johnson], in games past I think he would have pulled it down and run because we didn’t block the edge. He just kind of slid and kept his vision, made a big play and then he took a hit,” Jones said.

A nice surprise for this season has been the breakout of receiver Joseph, who totaled 12 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Joseph is currently leading the team in receptions so it is no surprise that when he was on the receiving end of the game winning score.

SMU now heads into a bye week before facing Texas A&M; on the road, but will have to get to work to fix what’s wrong before the matchup with the Aggies. SMU should not have to worry about games like this at this point in the June Jones era, but it shows how SMU really has plateaued under Jones.

With the bye week, SMU will have plenty of time to work and improve before the matchup against the Aggies. SMU will be a big underdog, but if there’s any chance for SMU to beat the Aggies it could be that week with Texas A&M; coming off of their showdown against Alabama.

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