SMU beats Texas State in June Jones’ home opener
DALLAS (AP)—The second-most touchdown passes in a game, ever. The first pair of 100-yard receivers since 1999. The first win in nearly a year.
Yep, the June Jones era is well under way at SMU.
Bo Levi Mitchell threw three touchdown passes to Emmanuel Sanders and two more to Aldrick Robinson in the Mustangs’ 47-36 victory over Texas State on Saturday night.
The victory ended an 11-game losing streak, which was tied for the longest in the country. It also made Jones a winner in his first home game, his second overall since taking over a program that’s had only one winning season in the last 20 years.
“This is exactly what I thought would happen,” Sanders said. “It’s going to be scary when we get better.”
They’re certainly not there yet.
The Mustangs led 21-0 and 30-6, but needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns and an onside kick grabbed by Sanders in the final few minutes to hold off their Bowl Subdivision foe.
Jones could’ve easily punched in a final touchdown or kicked a field goal to crack 50 points, but he’s not that kind of coach. He’s also not big on celebrating games he expects to win. When time ran out, he simply walked across the field to shake hands with Texas State’s coach, then made his way to the locker room while players went to whoop it up with some fans.
“I’m glad to get a first one,” Jones said. “We’ve got a long way to go to be a good football team.”
Jones is the first SMU coach to win a home opener since Bobby Collins in 1982, before the death penalty shut things down for two years, sending the once-proud program of Doak Walker, Don Meredith and Eric Dickerson into a permanent tailspin. After going 1-11 last season, Mustangs backers ponied up about $10 million to lure Jones from Hawaii, where he’d righted a similarly lost program.
He took Hawaii from winless to 9-4 his first season, the biggest turnaround in NCAA history. He started with a loss and followed it with a win—the same formula he’s followed so far at SMU.
The Mustangs will be hard-pressed to keep it up, though, with their next game on the road against Texas Tech and its prolific offense. If they gave up 465 yards and allowed four passing touchdowns by Texas State, there’s no telling what Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree might do against SMU.
“We’re going to have to play better in every phase of the game,” Jones said.
The Jones era—hyped locally as “June Cometh”—opened with a 29-point loss at Rice. That downer, plus the unimpressive foe, drew a paltry crowd of 22,218, many of them arriving late and many others leaving early.
“Hopefully as we get better, we will start selling to sell that thing out,” Jones said.
The quarterback and receivers might become worth the price of admission.
Mitchell, a true freshman, was 24-of-37 for 370 yards. His TD passes to Sanders covered 21, 8 and 35 yards and all came in the first half. Robinson had a 32-yarder in the first quarter and a 34-yarder with 7:12 left that answered a score by Texas State.
Robinson finished with 172 yards receiving and Sanders had 138. Each had eight receptions.
“I think they’ve got as much talent as anyone I’ve had,” Jones said. “I told Aldrick Robinson he has a chance to be the best outside guy I’ve ever had.”
Texas State’s Clint Toon was 19-of-27 for 225 yards and four touchdowns, three going to Cameron Luke. Luke had 121 yards on six catches.
The Bobcats (1-1) helped the Mustangs by turning the ball over on their first four drives, then again on their first drive of the second half. Yet SMU scored off only two of those five turnovers.
Texas State also missed an extra point, had another PAT blocked (and returned for a 2-point conversion) and struggled with kickoffs, sending one out of bounds and rarely getting the ball in the air past the 30-yard line.
“Our offense gave them 16 points in the first half,” Texas State coach Brad Wright said. “We only lost by 11, and obviously there’s the difference. Five turnovers—not good.”