Dallas, TX – SMU Mustang fans had every reason to believe that their team was in route to a victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday afternoon.
With a three point lead, the ball and only minutes remaining – the Mustangs didn’t convert third down. They had to punt the ball away to a Cincinnati team prepared to take advantage. They drove down the field with seconds to spare. Field goal kicker Cole Smith was tested three times on a 41-yard field goal, as SMU called two timeouts. He made the first two attempts and wouldn’t be denied on the third try.
“Cincinnati did a good job on that last drive,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “The field goal kicker made that kick three times.”
Smith’s kick tied the game at 20 all as the clock expired.
Cincinnati chose to begin overtime on defense. Their offense would not have to take the field again. With his team in position to score, SMU quarterback Ben Hicks was picked off by Cincinnati sophomore safety James Wiggins.
Wiggins jumped the route and would return the interception 86 yards for a touchdown, leaving both SMU’s sideline and the fans stunned. The final score read 26-20, giving Cincinnati a record of 7 – 1.
“We just made a bad play in overtime,” said Dykes.
Hicks has thrown four interceptions all season – all four have been returned for touchdowns. While Saturday’s game came down to a final play, SMU had plenty of opportunities to create more separation. The three main backs – Braeden West, Ke’Mon Freeman and Xavier Jones – combined for only 36 yards on 18 carries.
The 3-5 Mustangs will host Houston at home next Saturday.