HONOLULU — SMU coach June Jones walked out of Aloha Stadium with another win Saturday, thanks largely to the performance of 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 bowls, twice as big underdogs a 45-10 win over Nevada in 2009 and Saturday against Fresno State, both in the Hawaii Bowl.
That's where Jones feels most 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 track 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.
The Bulldogs hardly looked like a team averaging 488 yards a game. Carr spent more time on his back than stepping into throws.
And when tight end Marcel Jensen dropped Carr's short pass in the end zone on the final play of the opening period, it marked the first time Fresno State was shut out in the first half since it lost to Boise State in 2010.
That was the only time the Bulldogs even came close to scoring.
SMU 43, FRESNO ST. 10
Fresno St.0 0 7 3 10
SMU0 22 7 14 43
SMU: Gilbert 17 run (Hover kick), 14:07.
SMU: FG Hover 30, 12:16.
SMU: Hunt Safety, 10:50.
SMU: Z.Line 8 run (Hover kick), 5:24.
SMU: FG Hover 48, 1:37.
Fre: Adams 6 pass from D.Carr (Breshears kick), 10:21.
SMU: D.Johnson 21 pass from Gilbert (Hover kick), 7:01.
Fre: FG Breshears 32, 13:21.
SMU: T.Reed 69 interception return (Hover kick), 9:05.
SMU: Greenbauer 83 interception return (Hover kick), 1:14.
A : 30,024.
First downs 21 15
Rushes-yards 22-(-16) 37-169
Passing 362 212
Comp-Att-Int 33-55-2 14-28-2
Return Yards 50 187
Punts-Avg. 6-38.0 5-35.8
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-15 3-15
Time of Possession 26:41 33:19
RUSHING : Fresno St., Rouse 13-22, Burse 1-3, D.Carr 8-(minus 41). SMU, Gilbert 18-98, Z.Line 19-71.
PASSING : Fresno St., D.Carr 33-54-2-362, Watson 0-1-0-0. SMU, Gilbert 14-28-2-212.
RECEIVING : Fresno St., Adams 13-144, Watson 5-48, Rouse 5-29, Burse 4-89, Evans 3-20, Harris 2-3, Jensen 1-29. SMU, Thompson 5-82, Fuller 4-84, D.Johnson 3-40, Joseph 1-8, Z.Line 1-(minus 2).