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SMU quick hits: How the Mustangs nearly lost momentum in rivalry win over TCU

SMU head coach Sonny Dykes said they used analytics on a gamble that didn’t pay off for the Mustangs.

Momentum, especially in a rivalry game, can be hard to wrangle. In pursuit of that objective, SMU nearly lost it on Saturday.

With three seconds left in the first half and the game tied at 21, SMU decided to go for it from 3 yards out instead of kick a field goal. Instead of three points and a lead, SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai was hit as he threw and the ball was intercepted by Deshawn McCuin.

SMU coach Sonny Dykes said that the Mustangs used analytics to make the decision, but that with TCU getting the ball to start the second half, it wasn’t an easy decision.

“I felt like if we could convert that, that would really spring us,” Dykes said.

No problem, because SMU defensive end Turner Coxe sacked TCU quarterback Max Duggan on the first play of the second half, forcing a fumble that was recovered by DeVere Levelston at TCU’s own 3-yard line. Ulysses Bentley IV scored two plays later to give SMU a lead it never gave up.

“We just kept playing,” said Coxe, a Highland Park alum who finished with two sacks. “There wasn’t any miracle call or anything. We just kept playing the way we know how to play.”

Mordecai added: “That turned the momentum for us in a huge way.”

Mordecai completed 17 of 28 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. Mordecai, who also ran for a score, now has 20 touchdown passes on the season. He’s thrown at least four in all four games. Mordecai did also have three interceptions on Saturday, bringing his season total to five. Mordecai was hit as he threw on two of those interceptions.

“I just have to trust the clock in my head when it goes off,” he said. “When it goes off, I have to throw it out of bounds, take the sack or run. I definitely could’ve helped myself out.”

SMU has won 16 straight games Reggie Roberson Jr. has played in. The last time the Mustangs lost with him playing was Nov. 24, 2018. Roberson had three catches for 40 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.

Wide receivers Danny Gray and Rashee Rice have had at least one touchdown in every game this season.

SMU hasn’t allowed a sack this season.

Find more SMU coverage from The Dallas Morning News here

Joseph Hoyt, Staff Writer. Joseph covers SMU, college sports and the Texas Rangers for The Dallas Morning News. Previously he covered high school sports for The News. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2016, Joseph interned at The News before working for The Ames Tribune and KOIN-TV in Portland. He returned to The News in Nov. 2018.

joseph.hoyt@dallasnews.com /JosephHoytDMN @joejhoyt
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