DALLAS - Northwestern State coach Bradley Dale Peveto was impressed with his alma mater's football team Saturday night. Trouble is, his Demons were playing against that team, and the SMU Mustangs dominated as running back Zach Line ran for a school-record five touchdowns in a 40-7 victory at Ford Stadium.
SMU (2-1) corralled the Demons (1-2), holding them without an offensive score and to only 126 total yards. The Mustangs rolled up 530 offensive yards, 416 on 26 completions, and scored on five of their first six possessions to post a 26-0 halftime lead.
"SMU is a very good team that played very, very good tonight," said Peveto. "We played hard from start to finish, but we didn't play very well. I have a lot of good feeling about the effort, but our performance wasn't good enough by a long haul.
"They'll win a lot of games again this season. A lot of people think they are going to win Conference USA, and I'm in that number, not just because I played here. They have the most experienced offensive line in the country and we could get by them very often. They play pitch and catch very well and have one of the game's great offensive gurus in (head coach) June Jones.
"They're really strong defensively too, and that gets overlooked. It showed up big tonight. We just couldn't sustain anything, and first credit for that goes to SMU. We have some work to do on our own account, but SMU really had us stoned tonight and we never could handle their pressure on our quarterback.
"Then we have a chip shot (29-yard) field goal that's blocked, and they tell me the young man (Margus Hunt) who did that tied the NCAA record for blocks in a career (8). Great play by him, great job in special teams by them. As an alumnus, I'd be real tickled, except tonight I'm the coach of the visiting team," he said.
Line (16 carries, 85 yards rushing) found the end zone on runs of 1, 4, 9, 16 and 5 yards to top an SMU scoring record by 11 players including Eric Dickerson and 1948 Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker. The other Mustangs points came from field goals of 29 and 27 yards from Chase Hover, attoning for a miss on the first extra point of the night.
The Demons' defense played tough near the goalline to force the short field goals by Hover, and that effort produced NSU's only points - a school-record 93-yard fumble return with 1:41 remaining by senior safety Phil LeBlanc.
"That was a nice reward for our defense. It proves they never stopped fighting with everything they had to give," said Peveto. "Hopefully we can use that to springboard us into the (Southland) conference opener at Nicholls next week. It's a strong point to build from.
"We just lost in two weeks to the best team in the country, bar none (LSU), and a team that will go to its third straight bowl and very well could win Conference USA," said Peveto. "Now it's time to get going in the other direction and we'll see what we're made of."
Northwestern had only one turnover and was penalized only three times. Along with LeBlanc's fumble return, junior safety Jamaal White had two interceptions, returning them for a combined 91 yards.
The Demons played without two starting offensive linemen, center Zach Case (knee) and right guard Larry Calcote (concussion). All-America linebacker Derek Rose was able to play only a few first-half snaps due to a leg injury and failed to make a tackle for the first time in two seasons.