Brought to you by: Big Shucks
By Zach Walker
I like the style of recapping the game the way that I started last season, so once again, the three most pivotal plays from the SMU Mustangs’ game…
A summary of the Tulane game
This game was damn exciting. The Mustangs started fast, and maybe a little loose with the football was Ben Hicks early in the game, but when the down and distance became daunting and unfavorable, Hicks was a vision of poise. The Mustangs went into the locker room at halftime and didn’t actually take the field until a minute or two into the fourth quarter. The Mustangs would get down in the second half and retake the lead and trusted their defense to close the game out. Deon Green had a game. James Proche is rapidly evolving alongside Ben Hicks. Braeden West is still just amazing, and Kyran Mitchell inserts himself when it is really inconvenient for the opponent. Though the first half had highlights, the second half was a wild ride, and that’s where I’ll start. But, what a game to grab the team’s first back to back conference wins since 2013.
#1: 1st and 10 from the Tulane 21 yard line. The Mustangs weren’t interested in doing anything on offense in the third quarter. Four drives, sixteen plays, fifteen yards gained, as Tulane would take the lead from SMU. Another punt from Sackville, but this one being downed at Tulane’s eight yard line. Three runs and a first down picked up by the Green Wave. The next play was a massive gut punch, as Dontrell Hilliard punched the ball through the heart of the SMU defense. Though Rodney Clemons managed track Hilliard down and hold him to just a sixty-seven yard gain, two plays later, Tulane would pop it into the endzone and extend the lead to ten points early into the fourth quarter.
#2: 3rd and 17 from the SMU 48 yard line. The Mustangs were saddleless with blinders on. Horrible horse puns aside, the Mustangs were doing nothing while Tulane took the lead. The Mustangs, while going down ten points, were just much more comfortable losing yards than gaining them. This third and seventeen was a nail biter. Missed pass, or worse and the ball was going to get back to Tulane, riding a cool wave of momentum. The pocket wasn’t clean, like two brothers sharing a bedroom unclean. Hicks stepped up and escaped left and continued to look downfield. He saw what he liked, and let it rip! It was a full-body throw that spun Hicks as he released it. Downfield, covered well James Proche made an absolutely perfect adjustment to the ball and came down with the fifty yard grab. Two plays later, Braeden West slammed the ball into the endzone, to cut the lead to three. The first sign of life in the second half from SMU, but Tulane had the second half by the face.
#3: 4th and 2 from the SMU 22 yard line. The thing about the “All-Balls” plays that define a game, when they happen late they’re hard to come back from if they backfire. After the first play of the Tulane drive, a forty-four yard run by Josh Rounds, the mood could have diverted to an “aw shucks, guess today isn’t gonna happen for us”. No. The SMU defense allowed a nervous seven yard run on second down, but on third, nothing. Fourth and two. Tulane would pass on the field goal for a shot at the jugular. No gain. Ball over on downs. The offense had to act on it though. Hicks found Shelby Walker on a sideline rope for twenty-seven yards. Walker turned his left foot mid-air to complete the catch. Insert drama. After that play was reviewed and upheld, Chauncey Briggs was flagged fifteen yards for tripping, then two straight incompletions. This SMU team likes them some drama. Hicks, again, stepped out of his pocket, extending the play by rolling left and he found Xavier Castille for twenty-seven yards on the third and twenty-five. Two plays later, hooking back up with Castille for twenty-two yards to enter the redzone. A good play design to slip Braeden West in the passing game, following a SMU timeout, got the ball to the Tulane one yard line. The Green Wave looked to allow Braeden West to walk in, to preserve time and take their chances on offense. With 1:14 left, with the full complement of timeouts, in college football is an eternity. The SMU defense would hold true and get the win.