Turnovers Cost SMU Armed Forces Bowl

December 30, 2010  

By Ali Williams
ajwilliams@smu.edu

SMU’s Pony Express did not come out of the last game of the year with an excess of points as they suffered a 16-14 loss to Army in the 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Ford Stadium.

Turnovers in the first half proved key to the ultimate demise of the Mustangs as the completion of two quarters left them down by 16 and without any points of their own. Two of the turnovers were interceptions planted by SMU quarterback Kyle Padron.

SMU quarterback Kyle Padron threw for 302 yards in Thursday's bowl game against Army. (PHOTO BY JULIUS PICKENPACK / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

“He didn’t go through his progressions in the first half quite like he should have,” said SMU Head Coach June Jones. “He did a lot of good things in there today, but you just can’t turn the ball over.”

SMU gained momentum in the second half to score two touchdowns, but their rallying efforts were too late and their mistakes were too many.

“It was a well-fought game. The turnovers obviously were the difference,” Jones said. “We had three and one for seven points, and they had none.”

Nearly a minute and a half into the game, Army’s Josh McNary picked up a fumbled ball from a sacked Padron for a bowl record 55-yard run to the end zone.

“We needed that fast start,” said Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson. “We needed to take advantage of that moment in the game where we have a little bit of an advantage because of our uniqueness, and we did that.”

Not only did the Mustangs give the ball up, but two missed field goals by senior kicker Matt Szymanski also caused SMU to miss out on crucial points. Coach Jones spoke with Szymanski before he took the pivotal fourth quarter kick for the Mustangs, who were behind by two points.

“I took the timeout just to tell him to hit the ball, relax, don’t rush it,” said Jones. “It looked like he rushed it, which is easy to do when you’re a young kid, a lot on the line. But he had enough leg. Just unfortunate it didn’t go in.”

Strong wind and a hasty strike by the kicker sealed SMU’s fate with only four minutes left to go and an inevitable Army possession until the final blow of the whistle.

SMU wide receiver Aldrick Robinson attempts to run the ball in the Armed Forces Bowl. (PHOTO BY JULIUS PICKENPACK / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

SMU’s performance included noteworthy moments that helped them in their close combat with Army.

Margus Hunt blocked Army’s extra point after their second touchdown score in the first quarter. A six minute, 92-yard drive by SMU in the third quarter for their first touchdown of the game set a bowl record.

Wide receiver Darius Johnson, the player with the most receiving yardage, was SMU’s bowl game MVP. He also made a leaping catch to score a second and final touchdown for his team.

“Throughout the season, we persevered. We took some losses early in the season,” Johnson said. “To get to this point has really been a blessing for me, and I know [it] has for my teammates.”

Although the Mustangs lost, they fought back in the second half to make it a close game until the end. Jones said that he is proud of how hard his athletes played and battled back in the second half.

“I think we’re learning how to compete together, play together, all those things that you do, good football teams do,” Jones said. “Now we’ve got to put them together and just keep winning.”

The win for West Point gives them their first winning season since 1996 and their first bowl win in 25 years.

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