Mustangs crush Tigers, 42-0

Running back Zach Line ran for 140 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback J.J. McDermott threw for three more as SMU easily disposed of the University of Memphis, 42-0, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

On fourth down from the SMU 10-yard-line with under one minute left in the first half and the University of Memphis trailing 28-0, freshman quarterback Taylor Reed had a chance to put the Tigers on the board.

His pass across the middle, however, struck the field goal crossbar and fell helplessly to the turf.

With more punts (12) than first downs (7), Reed and the U of M offense were generally stymied from the outset as the Tigers were blanked by the Mustangs, 42-0, in front of 16,748 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

"Offensively, we just had a horrible day and there are no excuses," U of M coach Larry Porter said.

After throwing for 300 yards last week in a 27-6 win against Austin Peay, Reed struggled mightily against SMU, going 17-of-32 for just 153 yards.

The Mustang front seven sacked Reed four times and stuffed nearly every U of M rushing play, as the Tigers netted -14 yards on the ground.

"We have got to be better," Porter said. "Taylor is young, but he has to play better and all across the board, we have to be better, including us as coaches."

The Mustangs gained 519 yards on offense compared to just 139 for the Tigers. SMU quarterback J.J. McDermott threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns, and Mustang receiver Darrius Johnson had 10 catches for 116 yards and two scores.

Converted linebacker-to-running back Zach Line, who didn't practice this week because of a separated shoulder, bulldozed through the Tigers' front seven for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

Line leads the nation in rushing touchdowns with 11.

"Zach has been a great contributor for us," SMU coach June Jones said. "He always does what we ask him to do. He didn't practice this week. … and still came out and rushed for 136 yards. That should tell you how special he is."

With the loss to the Mustangs (3-1, 1-0 C-USA) Saturday, the Tigers have now lost 11 straight C-USA openers.

"This is not nice," junior defensive lineman Dontari Poe said. "We have a lot of negatives to correct. … This game will go on our backburner."

The Tigers have now lost 24 of 28 games, dating back to former coach Tommy West's last season in 2009. Each of the Tigers' three losses this season have been by 42 points or more.

"No continuity, no rhythm," Porter said. "It's one mistake after another."

The U of M defense, which showed improvement last week against Austin Peay, forced four turnovers but gave up an average of seven yards per play to the Mustangs.

"Defensively, I thought that we started to settle in and play a good brand of football, but we didn't finish as strongly as we would have liked," Porter said.

SMU took just 2 minutes and 58 seconds to score on its first drive, as McDermott completed four first down passes before Line pounded up the middle for a five-yard touchdown to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead with 12:02 in the first quarter.

"It was hard, because we started slow," Poe said. "That's something we just have to fix. We have to come out ready as soon as the clock starts running. We have to be ready to play."

Late in the second quarter, Reed connected on a 46-yard downfield pass to redshirt freshman receiver Keiwone Malone that put the Tigers at the SMU 10, a play that set up one of the Tigers' few red zone scoring opportunities.

It would prove to be virtually the only explosive play of the day for the Tigers offensively.

"We have got to play better around (Reed)," Porter said. "The offensive line, the wide receiver position and the running back position, we have just got to play better around him."

With 7 minutes left in the second quarter, SMU receiver Der'rikk Thompson, filling in for the injured Keenan Holman, beat freshman cornerback Bobby McCain downfield and hauled in a perfect 44-yard touchdown pass from McDermott to put the game out of reach, 28-0.

"They came out and had a very strong start, and they continued that throughout the first half," Porter said. "We obviously got off to a slow start, and we were never able to recover."

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