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SMU Rolls Over UNT in Season Opener

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DENTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03: Southern Methodist Mustangs running back Tre Siggers (4) looks for a hole in the line of scrimmage during the game between the North Texas Mean Green and the Southern Methodist Mustangs on September 3, 2022 at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas. | Image by Matthew Pearce, Icon Sportswire, Getty Images

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Things could not have gone better for the SMU Mustangs during the head-coaching debut of Rhett Lashlee, as they rolled past the North Texas Mean Green 48-10 at Denton’s Apogee Stadium.

The Mustangs’ performance on Saturday brought back memories of how the team looked when Lashlee was their offensive coordinator (OC) in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Lashlee’s Mustangs finished top 10 in scoring and total offense in the 2019 season.

When he was brought back to SMU as the head coach after two seasons as Miami’s OC, Lashlee promised his offense would do one thing.

 “We’re going to play fast,” he said during his introductory press conference back in November.

The Mustangs did just that with a hurry-up offense that produced several explosive plays and multiple one-play touchdown drives.

SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai shredded UNT’s defense, throwing for a career-high 423 yards with four touchdowns. Mordecai singlehandedly outgained the Mean Green’s entire team, which had 422 yards of total offense.

Mordecai’s first touchdown pass was a 51-yarder to Jordan Kerley, giving the Mustangs a 24-3 lead in the second quarter. His second scoring pass was a short pass to Roderick Daniels, Jr., who took it 75 yards to the house to make it 31-10 at halftime.

All-conference receiver Rashee Rice and fellow receiver Kelvontay Dixon each caught touchdown passes in the second half. Rice had 8 catches for 166 receiving yards.

Tre Siggers and Tyler Lavine each had short touchdown runs in the first quarter for SMU. Siggers led the Mustangs in rushing with 54 yards.

Oscar Adaway III was the most effective player for the Mean Green, scoring the team’s only touchdown on a 35-yard run in the second quarter. Adaway finished with a game-high 117 yards on 20 carries.

North Texas knew it would have to be spotless to knock off the Mustangs, who have now won seven of their last eight games against the Mean Green and lead the all-time series 35-6-1.

But UNT was far from spotless, turning the ball over three times, including once when they had the ball inside SMU’s five-yard line in the third quarter. The Mean Green also had an early field goal blocked and had to settle for three points after making it to SMU’s one-yard line on a second-quarter drive.

“We didn’t execute at all,” UNT head coach Seth Littrell said. “It was on all three phases. We made too many mistakes. One side would start to lock in and make plays, then another area would make mistakes.

“When you make mistakes in crucial situations it’s deflating. We didn’t overcome it tonight. We have to be much better than that.”

After an impressive three-touchdown performance in the Mean Green’s season-opening win over UTEP, UNT quarterback Austin Aune struggled against the Mustangs with 186 yards passing and two interceptions before being pulled late in the second half.

SMU’s three forced turnovers were the most it has had in a game since the four they recorded against Abilene Christian last season.

All in all, it made for a successful debut for Lashlee.

“We’ve got good kids, man,” Lashlee said after the game, “and we understand how hard it is to win. Seth [Littrell] has a good football team and we played pretty well I think for Game 1, but it’s going to be hard to win every week and we don’t take it for granted when we win.”

Next up, SMU (1-0) will host Lamar on Saturday, September 10, while UNT (1-1) will host Texas Southern.

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