If you like points and hate defense, the 100th Battle for the Iron Skillet is the game for you.
The Horned Frogs and Mustangs have traded points through the first 30 minutes of play, with points teams using the ground game and explosive plays through the air to take advantaged of overmatched defensive secondaries.
SMU got on the board first and did so quickly, finding a wide open Danny Gray deep down the field for a touchdown that took just 46 seconds off the clock. The Horned Frogs responded with a touchdown drive of their own; after Savion Williams saw a ball go through his hands in the end zone and Quentin Johnston drew a pass interference penalty, Kendre Miller took it 20 yards on his first touch of the game to get the Horned Frogs on the board.
The two rivals traded blows on the next two drives, with Tanner Mordecai finding paydirt with his legs and Max Duggan finding Derius Davis on a slant to make it 14-all. A screen pass to Zach Evans from 46 out gave the Horned Frogs their first lead of the game, but Mordecai drove his team back down the field, finding Roberson wide open from 29 away when Lakendrick Van Zandt blitzed and TJ Carter and Trevius Tomlinson had a missed communication in coverage.
It was the ground game that really surprised for both teams; though SMU is known for its passing attack, Ulysses Bentley was the story early, rushing for 106 yards in the first half alone, as the Ponies piled up nearly 200 yards rushing against a TCU team that isn’t used to allowing 100 yards a game to individual players. But Zach Evans is no slouch either, an he carried TCU early on the ground and through the air. The sophomore ran for 54 yards on just six carries, picking up another 57 yards through the air on two catches. Taye Barber had a couple of third down conversions and collected 69 yards receiving, and JD Spielman and Blair Conwright had a catch a piece. Duggan has not been able to connect with Savion Williams or Quentin Johnston, though the opportunities have been there for big plays with both. The quarterback is 8-13 for 162 yards.
The Frogs stayed in the game thanks to two interceptions: Dee Winters halted a drive with a beautiful diving pick — though TCU had only a missed field goal to show for it — and Deshawn McCuin hauled one in in the end zone on fourth and goal with :03 to play to terminate a six minute Mustangs drive to end the first half.
The two teams combined for over 600 yards of total offense, with SMU averaging 8.1 yards per play and the Horned Frogs nearly 10. The Frogs will need to tighten things up in the second half, especially in the secondary, and of course figure out how to stop the run, if they want to take back the Skillet.
Second half coming up soon!