The SMU Mustangs are no longer about getting moral victories, they came out to beat the No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs Friday night but came up short losing 41-24.
The Mustangs (2-2) put up a strong fight until halfway through the third quarter, including leading 17-14 early in the third quarter. But an 83-yard kick-off return by Jeremy Kerley led to a quick TCU score to regain a 21-17 lead and the Horned Frogs wouldn’t look back.
After possessions for each team went nowhere the Mustangs put together an eight play, 88-yard drive ending with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Padron to Aldrick Robinson. The drive began with two rushes from Zach Line for 15 and 21 yards respectively.
TCU (4-0) would tie the score at 7-7 with 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Matthew Tucker. The run capped off an eight play, 85-yard drive for the Frogs.
The Frogs would score again on another long drive taking 15 plays to travel 70 yards ending with a four-yard touchdown run by James Waymon. On their final drive of the half the Mustangs would only manage a 26-yard field goal from Matt Szymanski to cut the lead to 14-10.
The second half started with a bang for the Mustangs as Sterling Moore intercepted Andy Dalton’s first pass attempt of the half and returned it to the TCU one-yard line. It would take just one play for SMU to take a 17-14 lead when Padron connected with Bradley Haynes in the end zone.
But the lead would be short lived. After Kerley’s 83-yard return the Frogs would use just three plays to go 13 yards to take a lead they would never relinquish. “I thought that was really the biggest turning point in the game,” SMU head coach June Jones said about the kick return. “The crowd was just getting in the game, we're up 17-14 and then it took the wind out of everything.”
Padron finished the game with 169 yards and two touchdowns completing 14 of 35 passes and throwing an interception. But Jones still thinks the sophomore quarterback has a lot of learning to do. “He's tough enough to play against the big boys,” Jones said. “Hopefully, as he looks at the (tape) he'll just get better and better.” Line had another 100-yard rushing day as he ran for 139 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. The average of 8.2 yards a carry brings his season average to 7.8 yards a carry.
The Mustangs were only out-gained 375 yards to 361 yards, but were just 2 of 13 on third down conversions. SMU played strong, but seemed to lose intensity down the final stretch of the game. “Defensively, I thought we played with energy early; but then they kind of wore us down,” Jones said. “They're a good football team.”
While the Mustangs aren’t playing for moral victories, and felt like they had a chance to win the game at certain points there is one thing they can take from it. TCU dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 in both the Coaches’ Poll and the AP Poll with Oregon jumping them in each. Oregon’s 42-31 win at Arizona State was more impressive than TCU’s 41-24 win against the Mustangs.
SMU will continue its Conference USA schedule next week as they travel to Houston to face Rice on Oct. 2. The Mustangs are 1-0 in C-USA this season, it will be the first conference game for the Owls.