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(Saturday, November 24)
Final Score: SMU 35, Tulsa 27
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Garrett Gilbert ran for 111 yards and a touchdown and threw for another 113 yards and a score, as the SMU Mustangs held off the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 35-27, in Conference USA play at Ford Stadium.
Zach Line ran for 81 yards and three touchdowns to help the Mustangs (6-6, 5-3 C-USA) become bowl eligible for a school-record fourth straight season. Linebacker Ja'Gared Davis impacted the game by notching a blocked punt, a fumble recovery and an interception on consecutive series to help stake SMU an early 21-0 lead.
The Golden Hurricane (9-3, 7-1) had already clinched the C-USA West Division title and a spot in next week's conference title game by beating UCF last week. Cody Green completed 36-of-64 passes for 413 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, nearly pulling off an improbable late-game comeback after a slow start. Jordan James finished with 145 receiving yards on nine catches.
A blocked punt by Davis set up SMU's first score late in the opening frame, as the Mustangs took over possession at the Tulsa 3 and Line punched it into the end zone on first down.
Davis came up with a fumble recovery on the ensuing possession, and Line scored again from three yards out to start the second quarter.
But Davis was not through making plays, as he struck again on the very next series with an interception at the Tulsa 35. The offense took over and Gilbert kept the drive alive with a 12-yard completion to Darius Johnson on 4th-and-7. Gilbert capped the drive with a 25-yard scoring strike to Der'rikk Thompson for a 21-0 lead with 11:42 remaining in the second quarter.
Tulsa got on the board midway through the quarter on Green's nine-yard TD pass to Alex Singleton, although Daniel Schwarz missed the PAT.
Less than a minute later, Gilbert broke loose for a 74-yard touchdown scamper to make it a 28-6 game.
SMU added to its lead at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter, as Line finished off a 14-play, 95-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Tulsa showed some fight late in the contest. Green tossed a 31-yard TD pass to Willie Carter in the final minute of the third quarter, although the Golden Hurricane could not convert a two-point attempt. Green added a 10-yard scoring strike to Keyarris Garrett to make it a 35-19 game with 12:21 remaining in regulation.
The visitors made it a one-possession game with 5:05 to play, as Singleton scored on a one-yard run and Green found Carter for the two-point conversion. SMU took 4:19 off the clock on its next possession and the Golden Hurricane took over at their own 6-yard line with 46 seconds to play. Green promptly converted four first downs with no timeouts, but Jordan James was tackled at the SMU 1 with no time on left after a 34-yard completion.
With their postseason lives on the line, the Mustangs improved to 15-1 in C- USA games at Ford Stadium since the start of the 2009 season.
11/24 17:26:51 ET
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