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SMU thrashes Navy 59-14 to seal AAC Championship Game appearance

Going into the Saturday matchup vs. Navy, Mustangs head coach Rhett Lashlee had one goal in mind: Win and advance to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. A loss at home against Navy would have put a championship game appearance into the hands of a computer simulation, something Lashlee and SMU were not interested in.

In 2023, Southern Methodist not only had one of the top offenses in college football, but one of the best defenses in the country as well. Before Week 12, SMU and Georgia were the only two teams in the nation that were top fifteen in offense and defense.

And boy did SMU play well on both sides of the ball on Saturday.

SMU quarterback Preston Stone had 275 passing yards in the first QUARTER on Saturday. Not the game, not the half, but the first quarter. Stone used the deep ball and some amazing separation from his receivers to produce the most passing yards in one quarter that college football has seen since 2019.

Once Stone and the offensive unit created a comfortable lead, the SMU defense went to work. Navy barely even created any offense in the first half, scoring their only early touchdown because a muffed punt from SMU placed Navy inside the Mustangs' 10-yard line.

Speaking of muffed punts, the greatest play of the year in college football happened in the first half for SMU. After a stalled drive on their side of the field, SMU punted away to Navy, who proceeded to muff the punt, leading to an SMU touchdown.

But that's not all.

Not only did the Mustangs' LONG SNAPPER recover the punt that he originally snapped the ball for, but the punt was muffed off of the towel of the Navy punt returner, which is deemed a part of the body according to the official rule book.

Cameron Robertson, Kobe Wilson, Isaiah Smith, and Je'lin Samuels all joined in on the sack parade for SMU, which made life very difficult for Braxton Woodson all afternoon.

Once the pass rush, and the lead, were established, Isaiah Nwokobia sealed the Senior Day deal for the Mustangs with a 74-yard pick-six that had Gerald Ford Stadium rocking in Dallas.

It's not to be left out that after Preston Stone lit up the Navy defense for three touchdowns through the air, SMU running back Tyler Lavine added three touchdowns of his own on the ground. When you take the Navy on the road, it's good to have your air raid and ground game in working condition, and boy, did SMU have plenty of both today.

The Mustangs will quickly turn around to face Tulane in the AAC Championship game next Saturday. The first AAC Championship Game for SMU will also be their last, as Southern Methodist University is leaving for the ACC next season.

SMU hopes their star QB Preston Stone will be healthy for the conference championship next weekend, as he was carted off the field Saturday with an apparent leg injury. Once Stone left, SMU had three players attempt passes, mostly relying on their running game and defense to close the game out.

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