Correction: An earlier version if this story misspelled the last name of SMU receiver James Proche. This story has been corrected.
DALLAS — After a review, James Proche’s foot touched the blue paint to end the game.
Proche’s 25-yard touchdown catch in the third overtime Saturday night ended Tulsa’s hopes of getting its first win over a ranked opponent since 2010. No. 24 SMU overcame a 21-point deficit to survive TU 43-37 and remain undefeated. The Golden Hurricane dropped below .500 at 2-3.
“Tough game to come out on the wrong side of,” TU coach Philip Montgomery said. “I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought they emptied their tanks, didn’t leave anything out there.
“There’s a lot of plays that were made throughout this game, and we needed to make just one more.”
The Hurricane looked to be in control when the fourth quarter started, up 30-9. SMU scored from TU’s 1-yard line on fourth down to start the quarter, though. The Mustangs put the score within one possession on their next drive thanks to a spectacular one-handed catch by Proche. Then, a defensive stop later, Xavier Jones sprinted around the left corner and into the end zone to tie the game at 30 with 1:02 left. Twenty-one unanswered points later, the game went to overtime.
“We know that they can catch fire and do some things,” Montgomery said. “I think it helped them a little bit in the fourth quarter being down, because every possession is crucial, and so they’re really playing four-down territory all the way through it.”
Both teams found the end zone in the first overtime. TU started with the ball, and Zach Smith hit Josh Johnson for a 7-yard touchdown, forcing SMU to do the same to stay alive. The Mustangs answered, with Jones scoring again from close.
Neither team could get on the board in the second overtime. TU safety Manny Bunch set the Hurricane up nicely after forcing a fumble and making it where TU needed only a field goal to win in the second OT.
But after the Hurricane offense was stopped, Jacob Rainey’s 43-yard field-goal attempt was wide left to keep the game going. Rainey was injured during the attempt, so Zack Long was responsible for the field goal attempt in the third overtime. Long missed from 42 yards away, giving SMU the ball for the last possession of the game.
“Those guys are young, and they’ve gotta continue to keep growing from those experiences,” Montgomery said. “There’s only one way to get (those experiences), and that’s to be in that situation.”