SMU 27, Tulane 23: Mustangs make late charge to steal win from Green Wave

Photo by Samuel De Leon

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Last year, Tulane felt robbed by a goal-line call in a loss to SMU on the Hilltop. One year later, they have to feel like this loss falls squarely on them because the Mustangs overcame everything – including themselves – to emerge victorious and get halfway to bowl eligibility with five games remaining.


With 3:47 left in the first quarter, a snap flew over Ben Hicks' head and went out the back of the endzone amidst a scramble for it. The Mustangs trailed 2-0. A lightning delay shortly followed. A little over four hours later, Hicks hit James Proche deep across the middle of the field for a 67-yard go-ahead touchdown. It was SMU's first lead of the game, and it came with just 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Both teams went nearly punch for punch through the game, but Tulane managed to stay one step ahead behind the play of quarterback Jonathan Banks. Early in the third quarter, Tulane returned a Hicks interception for a touchdown. Well into the third quarter, SMU still had negative rushing yards in the game. It just never felt or looked like a game SMU would win. Credit to the Mustangs for hanging in there and finding a way.


Three-headed monster

Receivers remain one of the most entertaining reasons to watch SMU. Proche was his usually impressive self, catching 6 passes for 93 yards and the game-winner, but he had company in the box score, with Reggie Roberson (7 catches, 99 yards, TD) and Xavier Jones (3 catches, 60 yards, TD) both creating problems for the Green Wave all game. The Mustangs collected 291 yards through the air, and it was necessary, as the ground attack finished with just 36 yards. 

Inconsistency still an issue

Those passing yards, though, came at a familiar price for SMU – a completion rate at around 50-percent. Hicks made the biggest throw of the game when it mattered most, and that's not nothing. He was also taking the vast majority of snaps for the first time in four games due to his inconsistency at the position, and turnovers remain a problem for the junior QB (though he seemed to believe the interception was his receiver’s fault, pointing at him while also chasing down the defender streaking toward the end zone). It was a gutsy win, but it didn't have the statistical hallmarks of any kind of turning point. And whether it's Will Brown or Hicks, the job gets even harder when the running game just can't get going at all. Those previously mentioned 36 yards came on 32 attempts. It wasn't for a lack of trying, but it also never really got going. 


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