North Texas Daily

Mason Fine captains thrilling drive to deliver last-second win over UTSA

Mason Fine captains thrilling drive to deliver last-second win over UTSA

October 14
23:22 2017

As the ball came down off the foot of University of Texas at San Antonio punter Yannis Routsas, everyone in a black and green North Texas uniform dispersed from the area as they are instructed to do when a punt falls inside the five.

The only problem was that the ball bounced straight up. Not left. Not right. Not forward just two more yards into the end zone. It bounced straight up.

The players in navy blue flew to the ball, catching it at the 2-yard line and putting the North Texas offense up against the wall of its own end zone.

The Mean Green trailed 26-22, had no timeouts and just 1:07 left on the clock.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine trotted onto the field with confidence well-beyond his years. North Texas needed to go 98 yards in 67 seconds, and had put up just 104 yards in the previous 44 minutes of play.

But there was never a doubt – especially not from Fine.

“We always have confidence, especially with this offense,” Fine said. “As long as there’s time on the clock we have a chance, and we just went out there and executed.”

Fine began his trek down the field with completions to sophomore receivers Michael Lawrence and Rico Bussey Jr., getting to the 20-yard line before going deep. Fine rolled out left, set his feet and let it fly. Lawrence toed the out of bounds line and let the ball hit him right in the numbers for a 49-yard gain all the way down to the UTSA 31-yard line.

After advancing the ball to the 22, Fine took the snap and saw a hoard of Roadrunners coming at him. He took a huge shot, but found Bussey slicing across the field. The zero-coverage look allowed the sophomore to break a single tackle and dash into the end zone with 10 seconds left.

Euphoria ensued, as North Texas defeated its budding rival UTSA 29-26 Saturday night at Apogee Stadium.

“They blitzed and [Bussey] was my hot,” Fine said. “I threw it on blind faith, I didn’t know if he was going to be there or not, and he caught it and made a play on it.”

With senior running back Jeffery Wilson facing a slew of Roadrunner defenders loading the box, Fine became the focal point of the offense. Roadrunner defenders Marcus Davenport and Josiah Tauaefa combined for 16 tackles and constantly affected Fine’s ability to be comfortable in the pocket.

The pressure forced Fine’s lone interception in the third quarter, but also led to the game-winning score.

“He’s resilient,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I can’t say enough about Mason. He’s very competitive and not only is he physically tough, he’s very mentally tough. I have a lot of fun coaching him, that’s for sure.”

Fine ended the game completing 20-of-34 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

He found sophomore receiver Jalen Guyton eight times, as Guyton had another monster performance finishing with 182 yards and two scores.

It was yet another dominant showing from the explosive duo of Fine and Guyton, who continue to torch opposing secondaries this season.

“The game is easy,” Guyton said. “It’s easy to do what we’ve been doing all week in practice so I think we’re all comfortable right now.”

While the defense kept the team in the game, Fine and the offense won it in the end with a nearly perfect drive that ended with a win while preserving an undefeated record at home and in conference play.

The road to the Conference USA West title runs through Denton now, and the win was a monumental one for a program on the rise.

“It’s a big win,” Littrell said. “For the reasons of confidence, just learning about being in games when the pressure is on. It’s also big, because now we’re 3-0 in conference. We control our own destiny.”

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore quarterback Mason Fine (6) attempts a pass against the University of Texas at San Antonio. Fine threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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