SMU looks to stay unbeaten against host Louisiana Tech

SMU will look to improve to 3-0 for the third straight season when the Mustangs visit Louisiana Tech in a nonconference game on Saturday in Ruston, La.

Quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 35-12 win over the visiting North Texas Mean Green last week in a game in which the Mustangs’ defense gave up plenty of yards but not a lot of points.

SMU allowed the Mean Green to amass 506 yards of total offense, but just 12 points. After North Texas took a 6-0 lead with 13:52 left in the second quarter, the Mustangs (2-0) took the lead for good on Mordecai’s 62-yard touchdown pass to Rashee Rice with 3:50 left in the first half.

Mordecai extended the lead to 14-6 with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Danny Gray before North Texas pulled to within 14-12 on Jace Ruder’s 23-yard strike to Isaiah Johnson midway through the third quarter, but Ruder’s two-point conversion pass was incomplete.

The Mustangs, who play in the American Athletic Conference, put the game away when Mordecai, who completed 21 of 33 passes with two interceptions, threw touchdown passes to tight end Grant Calcaterra and running back Ulysses Bentley IV for a 28-12 lead with 11:17 remaining. Bentley (10 carries, 141 yards) provided the exclamation point with an 85-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring on SMU’s next possession.

“I believe that I still am one of the better guys at my position playing college football,” said Calcaterra, who has five catches for 90 yards and three touchdowns this season after having to miss last year and the end of the 2019 season after suffering a series of concussions. “I want to play in the NFL, and I want to be the best at my position.”

Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech (1-1), a member of Conference USA, rebounded from a demoralizing season-opening loss at Mississippi State with a 45-42 win over the visiting Southeast Louisiana Lions.

Bulldogs quarterback Austin Kendall went 19-of-27 passing for 217 yards with a touchdown and ran for another as the Bulldogs rolled up 448 yards of total offense.

Louisiana Tech never trailed, but it wasn’t until its defense forced a turnover in the final minute to secure the win, as Ezekiel Barnett stripped quarterback Cole Kelley during a third-down run, with Cedric Woods making the recovery.

Louisiana Tech rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns on 43 rushes, led by Marcus Williams Jr., who ran for 99 yards on 18 carries.

“We’ve been going,” running back Greg Garner, who scored three touchdowns (two rushing) against the Lions, told reporters. “When your number is called, that’s what we’ve had to do. A lot of players and running backs make plays when their number is called.”

The Bulldogs opened the season with a 35-34 loss at Mississippi State in a game in which they squandered a 34-14 lead with 13:11 remaining by giving up three touchdowns in less than 10 minutes during the fourth quarter.

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