After sitting out Week 9 under concussion protocol, Southern Methodist University (SMU) quarterback Tanner Mordecai couldn’t have asked for a better comeback than to set school records for touchdowns and first-half yards and contribute to breaking the NCAA record for total points scored by two teams in regulation time.
Mordecai tossed seven touchdown passes in the first half and nine overall to exceed his career best, rushed for a touchdown, and led the Mustangs to a historic 77-63 victory against the University of Houston.
The score would indicate that neither defense bothered to check in on Saturday night, but SMU still recorded three interceptions and held Houston to 182 yards rushing as the Cougars were forced into a one-dimensional shootout early in the game.
Houston QB Clayton Tune provided his own epic storyline with a massive 527-yard, seven-touchdown performance. Tune hit 36-of-53 passes but had two interceptions in the first half and another in the second that gave the Mustangs ample opportunity to put up basketball-game numbers.
The Mustangs and Cougars traded touchdowns on the first seven drives of the game before Tune saw a breadbasket pass to KeSean Carter, who popped the ball directly to Nick Roberts, who made a tip drill interception to set up the Mustangs offense with the first two-score lead of the game. Roberts would intercept a second pass from Tune in the game by perfectly jumping a route to step in front of a rifle pass.
Mordecai and the SMU offense held a 56-35 lead at the half following a missed 49-yard field goal by Houston kicker Bubba Baxa. It would be the only field goal either team would attempt in the game. Baxa hit nine extra points against 11 points after touchdowns (PATs) by the Mustangs’ Collin Rogers.
SMU’s Rashee Rice has been Mordecai’s number-one receiver this season. His impact was felt not just by his receptions, but also because of the attention he drew that opened up opportunities for his SMU teammates. Jordan Kerley had three catches, including one that set up a late fourth-quarter touchdown.
Two of RJ Maryland’s four catches were touchdown receptions, while Moochie Dixon had a 43-yard TD catch, and Ben Redding totaled three touchdown catches on four receptions for SMU. Rice had two touchdown catches in the game.
Tyler Lavine had 25 carries for the Mustangs, earning 146 yards and a touchdown in the process. He also had two receptions for 12 yards out of the backfield. Velton Gardner took eight carries for 68 yards, and Mordecai added 54 yards on his eight totes.
Houston had three receivers hit triple-digit numbers, including Nathaniel Dell (180), Carter (136), and Matthew Golden (105). Dell had two TD receptions, while Carter and Golden each had one. Sam Brown recorded two Houston touchdowns on six catches. Ultimately, Tune threw an interception in the endzone that otherwise may have brought the game to a one-score match with just south of two minutes to play, ending any opportunity the visitors may have had to take down the Mustangs.
SMU is now 6-4 and 4-2 in the AAC, while Houston drops to 5-5 and 3-3 in the conference.
The Mustangs will face the University of Central Florida Bulls next week.