SMU Rolls Over SFA 50-7

Kentucky Falls At Auburn 29-13, SMU Rolls
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It was not always pretty, but it did not need to be for the blowout to happen. There were a few receiver drops early on, and a couple of penalties. But SMU jumped out to a 22-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 50-7 win over the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in the home opener for the Mustangs. The win puts SMU at 3-0 on the season. SFA fell to 0-3.

Want decisive? At the end of the first quarter, SMU had 22 plays on offense for 171 yards. SFA 10 plays for a net 14 yards. It was that kind of night.

SMU Rolls Over SFA 50-7

SMU’s first scoring drive was capped with a lateral to running back Ulysses Bentley IV in the backfield. He picked up a strong edge block by tight end Tommy McIntyre on the edge that allowed him to go 33 yards for the rushing touchdown. The PAT was blocked, but the Mustangs had a 6-0 lead after their first drive.

SMU’s defense did its job holding to SFA to a three and out on the Lumberjacks first possession. The Mustangs’ offense went downfield in a manner considered methodical with how quickly they are capable of scoring. Field possession was aided by a SFA pass interference near midfield. Shane Buechele connected two consecutive times with receiver Danny Gray. The second was a slant to the edge which Gray turned back into the middle for 11 yards, and the 13-0 lead. The drive went 66 yards in 10 plays and consumed a “clock draining” 3:36.

SFA Gets In Own Way

SFA made it worse for themselves. After being held to a three and out again, Max Quick had his punt blocked by Keke Burns. The ball went out the back of the end zone for a safety, and the Mustangs were up 15-0 with still so much time left on the clock to do damage with the offense.

The SFA post-safety free kick, was returned 31 yards by Danny Gray. A few plays later Buechele hit tight end Kylen Gransen inside the five. Gransen shook off a tackle at the two-yard line and steamrolled into the end zone. SMU had a 22-0 lead and it was only the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same. On the first play of the quarter, SFA quarterback Trae Self was intercepted by Brandon Crossley who returned it four yards to the Lumberjacks 44 yard line. About the only thing that did not go SMU’s way was the 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the entire Mustang bench. While the play didn’t cost SFA any points, it was symbolic of SMU imposing its will with little difficulty.

Later in the second quarter, down by three touchdowns, SFA had little choice but to go for it on fourth and two at the SMU 31. Self was flushed from the pocket and sacked by Loveless Harrison for a one-yard loss. The Mustangs, again moving more deliberately downfield, used 3:19 to go 68 yards. Gray caped off the drive with a five yard end around for the touchdown and the 29-0 halftime lead.

Insurmountable Mustangs’ Lead

Buechele was not the flame thrower that he was in the first two games but was a more-than-sufficient 13 of 19 for 135 yards and two touchdowns. T.J. McDaniel and Bentley combined for 110 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

The defense held SFA’s Self to 86 yards passing on nine of 14 throwing. The Lumberjacks have not put together a viable rushing game all season and it bit them here. Jaquarion Turner was the leading rusher at the half for SFA with 20 yards on seven carries.

SFA had a chance to change the momentum with getting the first possession of the second half. At this point, it does not take much to figure out how that went. The possession turned into a Lumberbacks third and 30 from their own 16. No, they did not convert on it.

The Mustangs turned the flip-of-the-field into a healthy does of rushing yards. The six play, 53-yard drive culminated with a 13-yard touchdown run by Bentley for the 36-0 lead.

SFA answered, finally, with a scoring drive of its own. Self scrambled away from pressure at the SMU six-yard line, rolled to his right, got hit low and summersaulted into the end zone for the first and last SFA score of the game. The best thing about the 13 play, 75-yard drive was that it kept the SMU offense off the field, by burning 8:20 of the third quarter.

A Lot Of Work To Do Before Conference Opener

There is still a lot to work on before the conference opener at home next week against Memphis. While the points came with some ease Saturday night, Buechele’s performance was pedestrian compared to the first two games. He finished the game 14 of 25 for 141 yards and two touchdowns in what is one of his lowest yardage performances at SMU. He played just a little over three quarters before being pulled in “garbage time” with a 36-7 lead. Terrance Gipson came in and engineered a 5 play, 54-yard drive that ended with him scoring on a quarterback keeper from three yards out. TaMerik Williams added five yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter for the final score.

The defense played better, albeit against a team that had no viable running game.  The Mustangs gave up 216 yards of total offense with only 51 of it being on the ground. They gave up 165 yards passing but half of that was in the second half when the guy was well out of hand already. After the game, head coach Sonny Dykes said he was pleased with the defensive effort. “I think we just played hungry. When we opened up a pretty good sized lead, they just kept playing hard and doing their job.” Consistency is still an issue on offense. “I expect more out of that group, honestly. We made some plays early in the game and lost our rhythm.”