HONOLULU (AP) — SMU coach June Jones walked out of Aloha Stadium with another win Monday, thanks largely to a disruptive performance by defensive end Margus Hunt that set the tone for the Mustangs’ 43-10 win over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.
Hunt, the 6-foot-8 senior from Estonia with an 82-inch 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 and never looked back.
The Mustangs also returned two interceptions for touchdowns, giving them eight for the season to tie the NCAA record set last year by Southern Miss. 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.
Garrett Gilbert was effective with his arm and his legs, running for a 17-yard touchdown for the first score of the game and throwing a perfect strike to 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 MVP.
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, and Carr was too busy running for his life to get the Bulldogs into any kind of offensive rhythm.
The Mustangs were playing in a school-record fourth straight bowl game since ending a 25-year drought dating to its infamous NCAA death penalty. They have won three of those bowl games, twice as big underdogs to explosive offenses — a 45-10 win over Nevada in 2009 and Saturday against Fresno State, both in the Hawaii Bowl.
That’s where Jones feels right at home, even though the flea market earlier in the day drew more people.
He was the coach at Hawaii for eight years, leaving after its unbeaten regular season in 2007. Jones now has won 10 straight games in Aloha Stadium, dating to a December 2006 loss to Oregon State.
“I just want to say ‘Aloha’ to the seniors,” Jones said during the trophy presentation. “We said we were going to do it and we did it.”
Without hardly breaking a sweat.
Hunt, who won the Junior World Championships in Beijing in 2006 in the shot put and discus, came to SMU to work on athletics and earned a scholarship when coaches took one look at him, and saw his 4.7 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.