DALLAS – Tranfer quarterbacks Steve Buechelle and Zach Smith turned Southern Methodist University’s encounter with Tulsa at Gerald J. Ford Stadium into a college football classic Saturday night.
Buechelle, a former Texas Longhorn starter, rallied the 24th-ranked Mustangs from a 30-9 deficit entering the fourth quarter to a 43-37 triple overtime win over the Golden Hurricane.
Prior to SMU’s comeback, former Baylor Bear Zach Smith had burned the Mustangs’ secondary for three touchdowns. Tulsa scored twice within one second in the second quarter. Keylon Stokes caught a 58-yard scoring pass from Smith with 13:44 left before halftime.
The ensuing kickoff rolled past SMU’s returners, who were apparently hoping the ball would roll into the endzone. They waited too long, Tulsa’s Kendarin Ray falling on the ball for a touchdown with 13:45 on the clock.
Stokes’ TD catches put Tulsa up 30-9
Stokes caught another touchdown pass to make it 23-9 at intermission, and Keenen Johnson’s 40-yard TD reception at the start of the second half made it 30-9.
SMU (6-0) started its rally on the first play of the fourth quarter when former Liberty-Eylau standout Ke’Mon Freeman scored on a 1-yard plunge. Tulsa had stopped Freeman twice inside the 1, but a pass interference call gave the Ponies new life.
James Proche’s spectacular one-handed touchdown catch with 8:24 left made it 30-23. Starting running back Xavier Jones made it a one-point game in the final seconds on a 4-yard run. Kevin Robledo kicked the tying point.
The first overtime was frustrating for SMU coach Sonny Dykes. Tulsa got a 7-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Josh Johnson. Dykes protested the 25-second clock ran out before the play, and television playbacks supported his argument. However, the touchdown counted.
Tulsa missed a chance at winning in the second OT after recovering a fumble. A 43-yard field goal attempt sailed left. The Hurricane also missed a three-pointer in the third extra period from 42 yards. Buechelle preserved SMU’s perfect record with a 25-yard scoring pass to Proche.
After a slow start Buechelle finished 23 of 40 for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones had 121 yards and two TDs. Tulsa’s Smith was 23 of 41 for 343 yards and 4 TDs. Stokes had five catches for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The win was SMU’s second in its last six meetings with Tulsa.