Mordecai throws 3 more TDs, No. 21 SMU beats Tulane 55-26

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DALLAS – Tanner Mordecai threw three touchdown passes to push his nation-leading total to 29, ran for another score and No. 21 SMU dominated the first half in a 55-26 victory over Tulane on Thursday night.

The Mustangs (7-0, 3-0 American Athletic) are a victory away from their second 8-0 start in the past three seasons as they get ready to play three of the next four games on the road in a stretch that ends with a trip to No. 2 Cincinnati.

Mordecai had 300 of his career-high 427 yards at halftime, capped by a 22-yard toss to Reggie Roberson Jr. for a 31-7 lead 53 seconds before the break. The Oklahoma transfer’s 3-yard scoring run on a bootleg off a fake pitch fooled the entire Tulane defense early.

Second-year freshman Michael Pratt tied a career high with three touchdown passes to give him at least one in all 17 of his games, but the early deficit was too big in a fifth consecutive loss for the Green Wave (1-6, 0-3).

Pratt exited the game midway through the fourth quarter after getting hit while sliding at the end of a scramble. SMU linebacker Gary Wiley was penalized for a late hit after a targeting call was overturned. Freshman Kai Horton took over and later threw an interception.

With lead running back Ulysses Bentley IV limited again by an ankle injury, SMU’s Tre Siggers had 81 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a 1-yard score that was initially ruled short of the goal line but reversed on replay. Bentley had one early catch for 6 yards.

Danny Gray had eight catches for a career-high 140 yards, the biggest a 43-yarder on third-and-14 from the SMU 18-yard line with Tulane building momentum in the third quarter.

The Mustangs’ seventh consecutive win over Tulane was the sixth under Green Wave coach Willie Fritz, but the previous five were by an average of just 4.2 points. Tulane wasn’t that close after the 6:08 mark of the first quarter.

Mordecai, who entered the game tied with Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe for the national lead at 26 TD passes, was 30 of 42 without an interception as the Mustangs finished with a season-high 612 yards total offense, 400 before halftime.

Grant Calcaterra, another Oklahoma transfer who helped Mordecai decide to come to SMU, had seven receptions for 90 yards. Fellow tight end Tommy McIntyre had a 24-yard scoring catch.

THE TAKEAWAY

Tulane: A spirited third quarter kept the game interesting. Kicker Ryan Wright came close to a touchdown pass on a fake field goal that could have pulled the Green Wave within 10 points. Tulane recovered an onside kick late in the third when trailing by 19, but Pratt was stopped short on a fourth-down scramble near midfield on the first play of the fourth quarter.

SMU: Don’t sleep on the Mustangs’ kickoff return game if this unbeaten run continues. Bryan Massey averaged 42 yards on three returns, including a 58-yarder. Murray’s season average is at 52 yards on five returns, including a 95-yarder for a TD to help avoid an upset at Navy.

UP NEXT

Tulane: Another game against a ranked opponent as No. 2 Cincinnati visits the Green Wave on Oct. 30.

SMU: The first of back-to-back road games in Houston on Oct. 30. The Mustangs have won three of the past four against their former Southwest Conference rival, including twice when Houston was ranked.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.