In a thrilling showdown, the SMU Mustangs edged out the Memphis Tigers with a narrow 38-34 victory on Saturday, bolstering their impressive Conference record and tying with Tulane. Quarterback Preston Stone led the charge with remarkable poise, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns and adding a crucial rushing touchdown himself. SMU’s ground game was equally effective, with LJ Johnson Jr. delivering a standout performance, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown.
This multifaceted offense was pivotal in SMU’s strategy, keeping the Memphis defense on its heels throughout the game. Despite the loss, Memphis had a formidable performance, particularly from quarterback Seth Henigan, who passed for an impressive 402 yards. However, the Tigers’ efforts were hampered by a costly fumble and a missed PAT, which ultimately proved decisive in the close contest. The game was a rollercoaster of momentum shifts. SMU established an early lead with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Stone to RJ Maryland.
Photo Cred: SMU
Memphis responded with a 27-yard touchdown reception by DeMeer Blankumsee but struggled to contain SMU’s versatile offense. The Mustangs’ defense, known for its efficiency, lived up to its reputation, successfully applying pressure and creating critical turnovers. Cameron Robertson’s sack and Ahmad Walker’s fumble recovery were highlights, showcasing SMU’s defensive prowess. As the game entered its final quarter, tension mounted. SMU held a slim lead, but Memphis refused to back down, answering every Mustang score with one of their own.
The Tigers’ final push, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Henigan to Blankumsee, brought them within striking distance, but it was too little, too late. SMU’s victory was a testament to their balanced attack and strategic playmaking. With this win, the Mustangs avenged their previous losses to Memphis and solidified their position as a formidable force in the conference.
Photo Cred: daily memphian
Coach Rhett Lashlee praised his team’s resilience and ability to execute under pressure. “Our team showed tremendous character today,” Lashlee said. “This win is a statement about our growth and our determination to compete at the highest level.”
SMU improves to a commanding 7-0 in conference play, mirroring their impressive start in the 1982 season. Memphis, while disappointed, remains a strong contender in the league with a record of 8-3. The Mustangs look ahead to their next challenge, continuing their quest for a conference championship.