SMU tops Houston Baptist behind offense’s big day

Coming into their game against Houston Baptist, the SMU Mustangs had only surpassed the 30-point mark once. On Saturday night, the Mustangs needed just one half to surpass that, scoring 35 first half points en route to a 63-27 victory over the Huskies at Ford Stadium.

The Mustangs dominated the Huskies’ defense from the opening snap, needing just six plays to score on their first drive. After a penalty pinned the Mustangs inside their own ten to start their second drive, Will Brown found Tyler Page over the top and Page did the rest, outrunning a HBU defender en route to a 92-yard touchdown. It was SMU’s longest play of the season.

The deep ball was a big part of Brown’s game Saturday. In just his second start, the true freshman threw for 309 yards on 12 of 20 passing. Six of his 12 completions went for more than 20 yards and four of those went for more than 40 yards. That stood in stark contrast to his performance against Navy, where his longest pass was just 20 yards.

“Will was accurate on a couple of deep throws,” SMU head coach Sonny Dykes said. “We needed to do that. It was just something that we hadn’t done this season.”

SMU racked up 425 yards in the first thirty minutes, which was more than 101 yards better than their previous season-high for a full game. 322 of those yards came through the air. Twenty-nine of those yards came from an unlikely source: punter Jamie Sackville. He connected twice with tight end Ben Redding, once on a fake punt and once on a fake field goal. The fake punt went for 25 yards and a first down. The fake field goal went for four yards and a touchdown.

“I’m going to ice my shoulder after this,” Sackville joked. “I hadn’t thrown a pass ever in a game before, so this was pretty cool.”

The Mustangs went into the locker room up 35-10, with mistakes leading to all 10 of the Huskies’ first half points. On SMU’s third drive, Huskie Johnavhon Graham beat Ryan Becker and sacked Brown, forcing a fumble in the process. HBU turned that into three points to cut SMU’s lead to 14-3.

After SMU scored to go up 28-3 early in the second quarter, HBU running back LaDarius Dickens returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. It was Dickens’ second long return of the day – he got loose for a 64-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. It was also the third return touchdown that SMU’s special teams have allowed this season. That’s something that Dykes wants to see cleaned up.

“That was a problem in week one and we thought we had it fixed,” Dykes said. “We’d covered kicks well in our last two ball games and then tonight we didn’t at all. That’s something that’s got to be addressed and get fixed.”

He also wants to see the defense improve. The unit started the game out strong, allowing just 91 yards in the first half, but faltered down the stretch. The Huskies scored 17 points in the second half, putting up points on three consecutive drives.

“I think we had too many penalties and didn’t do a good job getting off of the field on third down,” Dykes said.

Will Brown left the game with an injury in the third quarter and did not see the field for the remainder of the game. Ben Hicks came in for Brown, and completed eight of 12 passes for 61 yards and a score. Dykes stressed that the squad isn’t concerned about the injury to Brown.

“He’s fine,” Dykes said. “He just got hit on his knee. We just thought at that time, it was best to take him out of the game.”

Austin Upshaw, SMU’s third-string quarterback, also saw action. He scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter. He was just one of many young players who got a chance to show their skills in the blowout win.

“We had six players score their first touchdown tonight,” Dykes said. “We played a lot of young players and I thought some of them did some good things.”

The Mustangs close out their non-conference slate with a record of 2-3. They’ll travel to Orlando next Saturday to face No. 13 UCF in their second conference game. Kickoff is set for 6 P.M. and the game will be aired on ESPNU.