North Texas Daily

ICYMI: Football drops contest to Alabama-Birmingham Saturday afternoon

ICYMI: Football drops contest to Alabama-Birmingham Saturday afternoon

ICYMI: Football drops contest to Alabama-Birmingham Saturday afternoon
November 14
17:22 2022

In a game that would have secured a spot in the conference championship game with a win, football fell to the University of Alabama-Birmingham 41-21. 

North Texas (6-5, 5-2 C-USA) could still clinch the final spot in the Conference USA championship with a win over Rice University two weeks from now after a bye week. If the Mean Green lose to Rice, they leave the door open for Western Kentucky University or Florida Atlantic University to move into second place in the conference should either of those teams win their remaining conference games. 

“We knew it was going to be a tough game on the road,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “We have one opportunity to finish out the season the right way — we still have our goals in front of [us].”

The game featured multiple momentum swings throughout the first half. The Blazers (5-5, 3-4 C-USA) began the game by scoring 14 points in the first quarter. North Texas responded with three straight touchdowns in the second quarter to take the lead. A field goal from redshirt-junior Blazers kicker Matt Quinn made it 21-17 North Texas going into halftime. 

“[The team] showed a lot of grit, they have all year,” Littrell said. “They fought back, made some routine plays and ended up getting some momentum back on our side.”

The 21 points the Mean Green scored in the second quarter would be the only points they would score in the contest. Alabama- Birmingham scored 27 unanswered points after North Texas’ three touchdowns and outgained the Mean Green 294 yards to 49 in the second half. 

The Blazers out-rushed North Texas 271 yards to 105 for the game. Junior running back DeWayne McBride came in averaging 160.9 yards per game, the most in FBS. McBride’s three touchdowns in the game gave him the most touchdowns in a single season in school history with 17. 

The Mean Green defense held McBride to 26 rushing yards in the first half. He finished the game with 120 yards, extending his streak of 100-yard rushing games to 10 in a row. Junior Blazers running back Jermaine Brown Jr. ran for 150 yards and a touchdown.

“They do a good job in the run game, they are going to pound it,” Littrell said. “We did a good job of taking away most of their [deep passes]. We have to make more plays than that in the second half in order to beat a good team on the road.

Sophomore running back Ikaika Ragsdale led the running game for North Texas with 73 yards. Sophomore running back Isaiah Johnson and junior quarterback Austin Aune each rushed for a touchdown. Aune threw for 159 yards and a touchdown with a 47 percent completion percentage.

North Texas faces Rice at home on Saturday, Nov. 26 in the last game of the regular season. Should the team beat Rice (5-5, 3-3 C-USA) or Western Kentucky (7-4, 5-2 C-USA) and Flordia Atlantic (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) both lose one of their remaining conference games, North Texas will punch its ticket to the Conference USA championship game. North Texas versus Rice kicks off at 1 p.m. from Apogee.

“We are going to learn and get better from it,” Littrell said. We will come together better, that is just what [the players] do. They are going to love each other harder, they are going to work harder, they are going to prepare harder and we are going to bounce back and have one opportunity to clinch [a spot in the conference championship game].”

Featured Image: North Texas runs with the ball against FIU on Nov. 5, 2022. Photo by Matt Iaia

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James Carroll

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