On December 5, 2001, Phil Bennett was named the 15th head coach in SMU football history. The following fall, on October 19, 2002, the man from Marshall, Texas would record his first career win as head coach of the SMU Mustangs against Louisiana Tech. A 37-34 track meet victory, Coach Bennett's first career win comes in at No. 85 on the list of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
Behind the arm of quarterback Richard Bartel, the legs of running back Keylon Kincade, and the hands of wide receiver Cody Cardwell, the Mustangs built a 31-10 lead in the second half against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game, however, kicking a field goal with a little over seven minutes to play to narrow the SMU lead to 31-26.
Three plays later on SMU's ensuing possession, Bartel dropped back and hit Cody Cardwell streaking up the Mustang sideline for an 84-yard touchdown. Despite a late Tech touchdown, the win was secure as the Mustangs prevailed 37-34. Bartel finished 21-of-30 passing for 296 yards, Kincade ran for 146 yards on 46 carries, and Cardwell caught five balls for 138 yards on the historical Saturday afternoon.
The win gave SMU momentum in the final part of its 2002 schedule as the Ponies won three of their final five games. Phil Bennett's first win at SMU, a 37-34 thriller over Louisiana Tech, is No. 85 of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.