By Zach Walker
Let’s take a look at the SMU Mustangs win over the Tulane Green Wave. Rather than the drooling, boring full recap of a play-by-play, I’m going to highlight three moments in the game that were most crucial to the outcome.
A Summary of the Tulane Game: Final Score: Tulane 21 – SMU 49.
A win is a win, is a win. This is not that. This is a WIN! An SMU home win! The Mustangs looked like the team that I thought they could have been all season long. The defense was supreme, and the offense was masterful. Matt Davis looked as though he was truly conducting the orchestra during this brisk November night. The offense ran with authority, over the Tulane Green Wave, and racked up 323 yards on the ground and a record night for freshman Xavier Jones, who broke the SMU season rushing touchdown mark with a three score performance coupled with his 117 yards. The seniors showed up all over the defense, Zach Wood truly broke the game wide open early, linebackers Jonathan Yenga and Caleb Tuiasosopo mopped up nicely, and David Johnson and Shakiel Randolph kept the lid on the defense. It was, a total team victory. Three drives by the Mustangs, of 90 or more yards, and they didn’t end with an unsettling field goal, all three ended in the end zone. They finished the first half by railing off eight straight successful third down conversions. Truly, a great team victory.
#1: Fourth and Nine from the SMU 23 yard line: The offense had to this point recorded only a single yard of offense in two drives, but the defense seemed to be as frigid as the atmosphere around Ford Stadium and held the Green wave to a field goal attempt after playing a losing field position game, thanks to a pair of laughable punts by the Mustangs. The distance was from forty yards out and the action looked good, but big Zach Wood, playing in his final home game decided a huge high five to the football’s non-existent face would be an appropriate send off, and that’s what unfolded. Wood with the block, a bounce, and then RC Cox would pick up the ball and tear off for daylight, 72 yards and the game’s first points. Score at this point: Tulane 0 – SMU 7.
#2: First and Ten from the Tulane 49 yard line: I mentioned in my preview of this game, that the toy-box needed to be kicked over, and nothing be off limits in attempt to get a win on senior night. The Green Wave scored to half the lead, so the Mustangs needed to rip off the Band-Aid that Tulane tried to apply. Ask for gadgets, gadgets get gotten. On the third play of the drive, which started at SMU’s own nine yard line, it was the ol’ Courtland Sutton launching against the grain, cross field missiles gadget, this time to Darius Joseph. The play originally was ruled incomplete, but after review, Joseph had completed the catch and moved the chains 30 yards closer to the endzone. Very calm ball movement would put the ball in the endzone six plays later and would open the flood gates for more SMU scoring to be done. Score at this point: Tulane 7 – SMU 21.
#3: Fourth and Four from the Tulane 31 yard line: The Green Wave needed to come out of halftime and do something to break what SMU was doing, because everything seemed to be clicking in sync for the Mustangs. They needed a break, or a dirty turnover, and they’d get their shot. Not a particularly good punt laid down by Tulane’s Zachary Block, and Courtland Sutton signaled for the fair catch. Now, I can remember that there is supposed to be a ‘halo’ around the player signaling fair catch, but whatever. Sutton bobbled and then was hit, jarring the ball completely loose, and setting in motion a folly of errors by Tulane, who could not come up with the bouncing football. And the recovering player for SMU, was the man who started the process, Courtland Sutton. It turned out that that was the Green Wave’s only opportunity at a turnover forced, and couldn’t come up with the ball. Score at this point: Tulane 7 – SMU 35.