COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Smith, Louisiana Tech roll over SMU in Frisco Bowl

Sports Xchange

December 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm.

Dec 20, 2017; Frisco, TX, United States; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback J'Mar Smith (8) kisses the trophy after the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the 2017 Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 20, 2017; Frisco, TX, United States; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback J’Mar Smith (8) kisses the trophy after the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the 2017 Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas — J’Mar Smith passed for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth, all before halftime, as Louisiana Tech took advantage of five first-half turnovers and rolled to a 51-10 victory over SMU in the inaugural DXL Frisco Bowl on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs (7-6) didn’t have to do much on the offensive side of the ball as their defense intercepted SMU quarterback Ben Hicks three times — two of which were returned for touchdowns, sacked him twice and forced a pair of Mustangs’ fumbles that helped stake Louisiana Tech to a 42-10 halftime lead.

SMU (7-6) had committed a total of 13 turnovers all season and Hicks had thrown 32 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in the Mustangs’ first 12 games. All that went out the window in a forgettable first 30 minutes of the game, which were the first in the tenure of newly hired coach Sonny Dykes at SMU.

The Mustangs had averaged 493.8 yards of total offense per game this season but gained 294 on Wednesday. Hicks threw for only 127 yards.

Smith (15 of 23 for 216 yards passing) scored on a 1-yard fourth-down quarterback sneak on the Bulldogs’ first possession after an interception and 31-yard return to the SMU 30 by Secdrick Cooper, the second turnover by the Mustangs in the initial four minutes.

Amik Robertson picked off Hicks’ pass on SMU’s following possession and returned it 45 yards for touchdown, granting the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.

The Mustangs’ Josh Williams booted a 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-3 with 3:04 left in the opening quarter when SMU’s drive stalled in the red zone.

Jaqwis Dancy’s 65-yard return on the ensuing kickoff precipitated Smith’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Teddy Veal four plays later that pushed the Bulldogs’ cushion to 21-3 with 45 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Darryl Lewis then intercepted Hicks early in the second quarter and returned it 23 yards for touchdown and 28-3 Louisiana Tech lead.

Smith and Veal hooked up again for a 27-yard touchdown pass that expanded the Bulldogs’ lead to 35-3 with 5:12 to play in the second quarter before a fifth first-half turnover for SMU — this one a fumble by running back Braeden West — led to Smith’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Kay McKnight and a 42-3 lead for the Bulldogs.

Hicks and the Mustangs finally produced something positive, marching 78 yards in nine plays to a 9-yard touchdown pass to Trey Quinn to make it 42-10 at halftime.

Jonathan Barnes kicked a 28-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, added a second kick from 43 yards with 3:53 remaining in the third and tacked on another from 41 yards away midway through the fourth quarter to run the Bulldogs’ lead to 51-10.

If the Mustangs were going to forge any sort of comeback, they needed to make up ground in the third quarter. Instead, SMU bumbled its way to only 21 yards on nine snaps in the quarter, making the rest of the game little more than mop-up time for both teams.

NOTES: SMU coach Sonny Dykes was hired Dec. 11 after Chad Morris left for Arkansas at the end of the regular season. Dykes coached at Louisiana Tech from 2010-12. … Louisiana Tech alum and NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw was on the Bulldogs’ sideline at the start of the game while SMU sported alums and “Pony Express” tailbacks Eric Dickerson and Craig James as honorary team captains. … SMU outgained Louisiana Tech 85-62 in the first quarter but trailed by 18 points after 15 minutes of play. … Louisiana Tech’s 42 first-half points were its most in a half of a bowl game.