Southern Methodist defense sparks Hawaii Bowl victory

Updated 26 December 2012
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Southern Methodist defense sparks Hawaii Bowl victory

HONOLULU: Southern Methodist University dominated Fresno State to win college football’s Hawaii Bowl 43-10 yesterday, thanks largely to a disruptive performance by Estonian defensive end Margus Hunt.
Hunt, a 6-foot-8 (203 centimeter) senior with an 82-inch (208-centimeter) wing span, forced two fumbles that led to field goals and sacked Derek Carr for a safety as SMU (7-6) built a 22-0 halftime lead en route to victory.
The Mustangs also returned two interceptions for touchdowns, giving them eight for the season to tie the National Collegiate Athletic Association record set last year by Southern Mississippi Hayden Greenbauer picked off Carr and returned it 83 yards with 1:14 left, the final blow to a miserable night for the Bulldogs (9-4).
SMU had seven sacks, the most Fresno State has given up all year.
SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert ran for a touchdown for the first score of the game and connected with Darius Johnson for a 21-yard score to answer the Bulldogs’ only touchdown. He rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries and threw for 212 yards.
But this game was decided by the Mustangs’ defense, with Hunt leading the way. He was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Fresno State, which had averaged just over 47 points in its last five games, was held scoreless in the first half for the first time in two years.
The Mustangs were playing in a school-record fourth straight bowl game. They have won three of those games, twice as underdogs to explosive offenses — a 45-10 win over Nevada in 2009 and Saturday against Fresno State, both in the Hawaii Bowl.
Hunt, who won gold medals in the Junior World Championships in Beijing in 2006 in the shot put and discus, came to SMU for athletics and earned a football scholarship when the coaches took one look at him, and saw his 4.7 seconds time in the 40-yard dash. He set an NCAA record this year by blocking his 10th field goal.
His speed made all the difference in his final college game as Hunt zipped around tackles and harassed Carr all night. Carr finished with 362 yards on 33-of-54 passing. The 10 points were the fewest Fresno State has scored since a 20-10 loss to Boise State this year.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Gilbert shook off one tackle and scored on a 17-yard run. The defense took over from there.
Hunt blew past right tackle Alex Fifita and blindsided Carr, dropping him flat as the ball came loose and was scooped up by Aaron Davis, who returned it 23 yards to the Fresno State 16 until he fumbled it out of bounds. SMU had to settle for a field goal.
On the next series, Carr scrambled backward and couldn’t escape an 18-yard sack to the 6, and then Hunt sacked him in the end zone for a safety.
Hunt then caused another fumble on Carr’s delayed handoff to Robbie Rouse on the following series. SMU’s Taylor Reed recovered the fumble, leading to Chase Hover’s 48-yard field goal.
The two second-half interceptions sealed the victory for the Mustangs. Reed returned an interception 69 yards to make it 36-10, and then Greenbauer finished off a great night for the Mustangs’ defense.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”