The SMU Mustangs fell to 1-7 this season on Halloween night, losing to Tulsa 40-31 at Ford Stadium.
SMU started fast once again, receiving the kickoff and marching 72-yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Quarterback Matt Davis found wide receiver Courtland Sutton on a fade from the 5-yard line for his seventh score of the season.
Tulsa moved down the field but was stopped in the red zone, settling for a 21-yard field goal by kicker Redford Jones on the next possession.
A good kickoff return by Braedon West and a subsequent unnecessary roughness penalty against Tulsa gave the Mustangs good field position on their next possession, setting up a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeremiah Gaines.
Following a Tulsa punt and SMU turnover on downs, the Golden Hurricane connected on a 61-yard pass play that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Zack Langer three plays later, making it 14-10 Mustangs with 10:14 left in the second quarter.
Another long kickoff return, this time by Deion Sanders Jr., and a short punt by Tulsa gave SMU good field position twice more, but the Mustangs did not take advantage. Davis threw a pick six to Tulsa defensive back Kerwin Thomas, making it 16-14 Golden Hurricane after SMU’s Zach Wood blocked the extra point attempt.
SMU scored on its next possession, fooling Tulsa’s defense on a 39-yard halfback pass from Xavier Jones to Xavier Castille for the touchdown with 1:12 left in the second quarter. The Golden Hurricane responded 53 seconds later on a 23-yard touchdown run by D’Angelo Brewer, taking a 23-21 lead into halftime.
Tulsa received the second half kickoff and went 3-and-out, only to get the ball back on a muffed punt by Sanders Jr. The Golden Hurricane started on the SMU 28-yard line and Zack Langer punched it in 9 plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run.
A 37-yard field goal by Chad Hedlund, set up by a tip drill reception by Courtland Sutton, made it 30-24 Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa got the points right back on the next possession, driving nine plays for 48-yards and eventually kicking a 44-yard field goal.
SMU made it a one-possession game again on the first play of the fourth quarter when Davis hit Sutton for a highlight-reel touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone. The play capped off a 62-yard drive that lasted just 51 seconds.
Then, the Golden Hurricane put together an 11-play 75-yard drive that ended in a controversial fourth down touchdown run by Zack Langer, his third of the game.
Each team went 3-and-out on its next possession. Hedlund missed a 54-yard field goal attempt with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter, missing an opportunity to make it a one-score game and ending SMU’s chance at a comeback.
Tulsa employed a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Dane Evans’ 240 yards through the air. The Golden Hurricane scored all of its touchdowns on the ground, with four players accounting for a combined 185 yards rushing and four scores. The team’s 419 yards of offense was its lowest total of the season, as it entered the game ranked 8th nationally in this category. Wide receiver Justin Hobbs had seven receptions for 150 yards.
SMU’s offensive attack was dominated by Courtland Sutton, who had eight receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Davis was 19-39 for 236 yards and three touchdowns but took three sacks, threw the pick six, and did not contribute to the rushing game like he usually does. The kick returners, Braedon West and Deion Sanders Jr., contributed nearly 40 yards per return. Defensive back David Johnson played a solid game, breaking up four passes that included a potential touchdown.
“They have some tremendous athletes,” said Tulsa Head Coach Phillip Montgomery. “Matt Davis is a great quarterback, he can make some plays and keep drives alive. Courtland Sutton is long, he’s fast, he has some great ball skills so any time you put a combination together like that it’s tough on our defense so I was proud of the way we continued to fight back and find a way to win.”
“We didn’t create any turnovers and that is a killer,” said SMU Head Coach Chad Morris. “Our goal is four a game but we aren’t making any. When you don’t create any, you basically have to play perfect football.”
When asked about the season slipping away, Morris said, “I really don’t [think it is] and I’m not going to let it. They are going to give everything they got. Unfortunately, it is a process. It’s a day-to-day thing so we will continue to build. We just have to continue staying the course.”
“It hurts,” said Davis. “I’m not going to sit here and lie to you all. It hurts. To be close and to lose and to be up and to lose, it doesn’t feel good. But we have a game Friday. We’re going to go ahead just like we won this game. Tomorrow, the past is the past.”
Tulsa earned its first win in AAC play this season, improving to 4-4 overall and beating SMU in Dallas for the first time since 2008. The team will play UCF, Cincinnati, Navy, and Tulane in its last four games.
SMU slipped into solo last place in the AAC West with a 0-4 record in conference play. The Mustangs will host No. 21 Temple in its next game on Nov. 6. The game will be played at Ford Stadium at 7 p.m. CT.