It was a record-breaking night for SMU Saturday.
Zach Line, who scored all five of the Mustangs’ touchdowns en route to their 40-7 romp over Northwestern State at Ford Stadium, set the school’s single-game touchdown record--a feat all-time greats such as Doak Walker, Eric Dickerson and Craig James can’t claim. He also tied the Conference USA record.
Line ran for 85 yards and passed Walker on SMU’s all-time rushing list with 2,010 yards (12th in school history).
“Doak Walker is a huge name,” Line said. “In the history of SMU, he’s one of the guys you hear about. That’s cool.
“I didn’t even know it was a record until one of our equipment guys said, “I’m going to hold the ball for you.’ And I was like, ‘Why?’ And he was like, ‘That was the record, dude! You didn’t know?’ I was like, ‘Well, I do now!’”
Though Line broke some big-time records, receiver Cole Beasley had a career night as well. He had a personal best 11 catches for 171 yards (now third in school history with 197 receptions) as he and J.J. McDermott moved the Mustangs down the field to put Line in scoring position.
“Basically, we just threw the ball until we got down to the red zone, and then they handed it off to me,” Line said.
The Mustangs threw for a total of 416 yards and had 530 yards of total offense thanks to a quarterback rotation. McDermott got his second career start and played 75 percent of the game, but Kyle Padron played more than expected.
Padron replaced McDermott in the second quarter after SMU had to settle for a field goal in the red zone. His first pass was a 38-yarder to Beasley on a streak pattern. But he went on to go just 1 of 6 on the final possession of the first half that ended in a Hail Mary that the Demons intercepted.
Padron played a little in the fourth quarter and ultimately completed just seven of 16 passes.
“If it had been a close game, Kyle would have only played in the second quarter,” June Jones said.
Jones made the decision to play Padron in the second quarter last Monday.
SMU's lone low point of the night was a fumble that Northwestern State returned 93 yards for its only touchdown, which came in the final two minutes of the game.
“I was really pleased with the defense,” Jones said. “They played really hard, really well and they played physical. I was disappointed they didn’t get the shutout. That was hard to fathom. But it happens when you put a lot of guys in there that haven’t played and don’t know how to line up.”
It was essentially the first time this season that SMU was able to use it’s depth chart. Up 26-0 at halftime and then 33-0 by the end of the third quarter, a handful of freshmen and older backups got to see playing time with the score well out of the Demons’ reach.
“It was the first time I think, other than the Nevada game [a 45-10 Hawaii Bowl victory in 2009], that we’ve ever had [the game] secured like that,” Jones said. “For four years every game has been down to the end.”
The Demons had a chance to get on the board late in the third quarter, but Margus Hunt (always worth noting he’s 6-foot-8, 295 lbs.) blocked his eighth career field goal, tying the NCAA record. It was his fourth blocked kick in three games and his 14th career block (eight field goals, six PATs), tying him for third in NCAA history.
“It’s not all about me,” Hunt said. “Everyone has to do their job for me to get through there.”
He said the ball hit the SMU logo on his jersey, which sits right above his number.
“I got through there so fast and so clear I was just standing there covering my private parts,” he said, causing the entire press conference room to burst out laughing. “It’s just fun, you know?”
SMU’s defense held the Demons to seven yards rushing and 126 total offensive yards. They were also tight on third down coverage as Northwestern State converted just two of 13 attempts.
Center Blake McJunkin (high ankle sprain vs. Texas A&M) didn’t play at all. He dressed and wore his helmet on the sideline for the game’s entirety, but didn’t see any action. Bryce Tennison played in his place.
Receiver Keenan Holman had one reception for 29 yards on the very first play of the game, and he could be seen throughout the rest of the night icing his right ankle on the bench. After the game, he had a protective boot on.
Chris Banjo came out in the second quarter after a fumble recovery incident. Jones would not comment on his injury at all. However, trainers were constantly working with Banjo on the sideline, pressing down on his shoulders and arms. Banjo didn’t go back in the game, but Jones said he should be fine for the team’s trip to Memphis next weekend.