North Texas Daily

Football clinches bowl eligibility with homecoming win over Florida International

Football clinches bowl eligibility with homecoming win over Florida International

Football clinches bowl eligibility with homecoming win over Florida International
November 06
17:51 2022

Football defeated Florida International University 52-14 at the homecoming game on Saturday night in Denton. 

This was the Mean Green’s (6-4, 5-1 Conference USA) sixth win, locking them into a bowl game. If North Texas beats Rice University (5-4, 3-2 C-USA) in their last game of the season two weeks from now, they will secure a spot in the C-USA championship game.

“Any time you can get bowl eligible, it is a great feeling,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “We have had some ups and downs, some adversity and they fought through it. Now we [have] to focus in hard on the next two games in order to still try to accomplish all the goals and dreams that we have for this season.”

The Mean Green lost three of their four non-conference games earlier in the season, including a 48-10 loss to Southern Methodist University and a 58-27 loss to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Five conference wins later, the Mean Green have positioned themselves to have a shot at the C-USA championship. 

“We went through some growing pains [with] me trying to develop as a quarterback, trying to be a better player,” junior quarterback Austin Aune said. “I had two turnovers tonight, which is not good, but [I am] trying to each week get better, not turn the ball over, and get the ball to our playmakers. We are on track to where we want to go.”

Aune threw a career-high 414 yards and five first-half touchdowns, tying his career-high for touchdowns in a game. Aune’s 23 touchdowns on the year are tied for 5th in Football Bowl Subdivision. Former Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine holds the school record for most touchdowns in a season with 31. 

“Stats are just an accumulation of everybody doing their job,” Aune said. “Receivers running great routes and catching the ball [and] the linemen giving me time to throw it, super proud of the guys.”

Aune started fast, connecting with sophomore tight end Jake Roberts for a 70-yard gain to set up a touchdown run for sophomore running back Ayo Adeyi. The Mean Green scored 24 points in the first quarter with Aune throwing touchdowns to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Smart and redshirt freshman tight end Var’keyes Gumms. Smart and Gumms caught a team-high five balls each for a combined 118 yards. 

“The [offensive] line held their own,” Smart said. “Aune, like always, throwing dots — I think it brings the entire offensive room confidence.”

Adeyi was injured in the second quarter and was carried off the field by two members of the sideline staff. Adeyi is the team’s leading rusher this season with 631 yards. The team’s second leading rusher, sophomore running back Oscar Adaway III, was injured in last week’s game against Western Kentucky University and did not play versus the Panthers.

“Hopefully we will get some guys back,” Littrell said. “We need everybody to play well. Going on the road next week against a team like [the University of Alabama-Birmingham], who is a tremendous football team, you are going to have to play well on all three phases, especially on the road.”

Alabama-Birmingham (4-5, 2-4 C-USA) lost in double-overtime to conference leader, the University of Texas San-Antonio (7-2, 5-0 C-USA) 44-38 Saturday night.

The Mean Green play the Blazers next Saturday in the team’s penultimate contest. 

“We are peaking at the right time,” Littrell said. “I knew coming in, even through some of those early games, we were going to have a good football team.”

Featured Image: Sophomore running back Ikaika Ragsdale dives for a touchdown in the homecoming game on Nov. 5, 2022. Photo by Marco Barrera

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James Carroll

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