DALLAS (AP)—Justin Willis completed 30 of 42 passes for a career-high 353 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 82 more yards as Southern Methodist beat North Texas 45-31 on Saturday night.
The Mustangs (1-1) almost squandered a 14-point fourth quarter lead but Willis found Zach Sledge in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give SMU a 38-31 lead with 4:19 left in the game. Then Bryce Hudman returned an interception 49 yards for a score with 3:39 left.
The game marked the first time that North Texas (0-2) has played at SMU since 1992. The schools are separated by only 35 miles but renewed their rivalry just last year after a 13-year break.
North Texas, under first-year head coach Todd Dodge, recorded a school record 613 yards total offense. North Texas quarterback Daniel Meager set school records for passing yards, completions and attempts. Meager finished 46-of-64 passing for 601 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions. Meager had scoring tosses of 4, 25 and 26. Wide receiver Casey Fitzgerald also set a UNT single-game record for receiving yards with 327 yards on 18 catches with two touchdowns.
The Mean Green tied the game at 31 after Micah Mosley scored on a 3-yard run with 8:53 left in the game to cap nine-play, 99-yard drive that consumed only 1:44.
SMU running back James Mapps gave SMU a 31-17 after he scored his second touchdown of the game on a 29-yard run on the final play of third quarter. Mapps also scored on a 5-yard draw in the first quarter. Mapps finished with 46 yards on 10 attempts.
The Mustangs scored 21 consecutive points and erased an 11-point deficit after Willis threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders to give SMU a 24-14 lead with 13:22 left in the third quarter.
Devin Lowery led SMU with 160 yards on seven receptions.
Meager gave UNT a 14-3 first quarter lead with touchdown passes of 4 yards to Brandon Jackson and 25 yards to Fitzgerald.
Jackson finished the game with 133 yards receiving on 10 receptions. It was the first time since 1997 that two North Texas receivers had 100 yards receiving in the same game.