By Dylan Edwards, SMUMustangs.com
CINCINNATI, Ohio (SMU) – SMU appeared to be on its last gasp. After moving backwards to start overtime, things looked extremely bleak on fourth and 26. Giving the ball back to Cincinnati with no points would have almost certainly meant a loss.
On fourth down, the play broke down quickly, and quarterback Ben Hicks rolled out of the pocket to his right. With all of his momentum taking him out of bounds, he fired the ball to his go-to guy all night, Trey Quinn. Quinn’s 17th catch of the night was his biggest, picking up 28 yards and keeping SMU’s overtime drive alive.
“You don’t have too many of those calls in your pocket,” head coach Chad Morris said. “When you have playmakers like we have and you’re able to keep a play alive, and Trey Quinn to make a play, it’s unbelievable. I’m so proud of our guys.”
The drive ended with a 27-yard field goal from Josh Williams, but the three-point lead changed the dynamic for Cincinnati. In the Bearcats’ overtime possession, the SMU defense would make amends for not getting the stop late the in fourth quarter.
Defensive coordinator Van Malone dialed up pressure, and the SMU front collapsed the pocket on Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore. Trying to make a play while being wrapped up by Mustangs for a sack, he flipped the ball to his running back. The pass bounced up of his helmet and into Kyran Mitchell’s hands. Interception, Mustangs win 31-28.
“They found a way,” Morris said. “They found a way to make it happen. Give them credit. They made a play when they need to have it. That’s what we needed to have. Guys stepped forward and made that happen.”
Outside of his enormous, game-extending catch in overtime, Trey Quinn was the catalyst for SMU ‘s offense all night. The junior was targeted 21 times to log his third straight game with 15 catches while picking up 186 yards. When SMU needed a play, it seemed like Quinn was always there to make the play. The offense converted third downs at an impressive 10-17 mark, and Quinn was a big reason for that.
Quinn wasn’t the only playmaker out-wide for the Mustangs. Courtland Sutton grabbed both of SMU’s touchdown passes while picking up 81 yards. Sutton and Quinn have been a dynamic combo for SMU this season. Over the past three games, the duo has combined for 73 catches for 811 yards and seven touchdowns.
While Cincinnati did put together the drive late in fourth quarter to tie the game up, SMU’s defense in the second half looked much more like the opportunistic unit from earlier in the season. Including the game-clinching interception, the Mustangs forced three turnovers in the second half to hold the Bearcats to only eight points.
“We knew that this was going to be an absolute battle,” Morris said. “You knew this was a team that was much better than their record indicated. We knew we were going to have to play. We had to find a way to make it happen in the fourth quarter.”
The Mustangs return to Dallas with a 5-2 record for the first time since 2011. SMU has a short turnaround, hosting Tulsa on Friday night with a chance to become bowl eligible.