They called him "E.T." No, not the "Extra-Terrestrial", though the way he played was out of this world. He was "E.T." years before Steven Spielberg had the idea about a movie of the same name. He was SMU All-America receiver Emanuel Tolbert, one of the premier pass catchers in the country in the late 1970s. In a game against Baylor in 1978, Tolbert led the Mustangs to an improbable come from behind victory by scoring four second half touchdowns in one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
The first half of the game was simply terrible for SMU with the Mustangs losing five fumbles. SMU was lucky to only be down 21-0 at halftime. SMU came out in the second half ready to let Baylor make the mistakes for a change. The first came in the third quarter when Baylor fumbled on the SMU one yard line, mere inches from another score. SMU quarterback Mike Ford proceeded to march the Mustangs 99 yards in 14 plays, capped off by a four yard swing pass to Tolbert for the touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
On SMU's next drive, SMU went to the air ten times while running only once. This drive culminated in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ford to Tolbert, bringing SMU to within eight at 21-13. Baylor's next drive was short-lived as John Simmons picked off a tipped Steve Smith pass. Three plays later SMU scored once more on another 9-yard touchdown pass from Ford to Tolbert. This time Tolbert out-leaped his defender as if someone had called for a jump ball. Another two point conversion failed and the Mustangs found themselves trailing 21-19. Baylor coughed up another fumble on their next possession giving the Mustangs excellent field position. Freshman kicker Eddie Garcia connected on a 20-yard field goal to give the Mustangs the lead, 22-21.
With 4:42 left in the game, SMU gave itself some breathing room. Baylor's Howard Fields fumbled an SMU punt and Randy Katz pounced on the loose ball. Ford moved the Mustangs 13 yards in three plays, hitting Tolbert for a Southwest Conference record fourth touchdown, this time from 6-yards out.
However, the game was not over yet. With 1:34 left on the clock, Baylor managed to block Ken Rosenthal's punt, giving the Bears the ball at the SMU 31. But true to form, Baylor quarterback Steve Smith was picked off by David Hill in the end zone with 16 seconds left. After the game, Baylor Coach Grant Teaff reacted by saying, "I feel like I just ran into a brick wall at about 80 miles an hour. I'm in shock."
The man of the hour was Tolbert, who accounted for all of the Mustangs' touchdowns. He finished the game with 13 catches for 134 yards to go along with his four touchdowns. Tolbert earned All-America honors for the second straight year, also finishing No. 2 in the nation in receiving for the second year in a row. He led the conference in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. His record setting performance in 1978 against Baylor propelled SMU to a thrilling come from behind victory in one of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.