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Lackluster defense dooms North Texas in Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to Army

Lackluster defense dooms North Texas in Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to Army

Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (17) gets tackled inside North Texas' 5 yard line in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

Lackluster defense dooms North Texas in Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to Army
December 27
16:02 2016

Oh the dichotomy of college football.

In a game that featured old school vs. new school, triple option vs. air raid, the tried and true method eventually won out. Behind 480 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, Army wore down the North Texas defense time and time again.

And in a rematch from October, where the Mean Green (5-8, 3-5) pummeled the Black Knights (8-5) in West Point, Army knocked off North Texas 38-31 in overtime to win the Heart of Dallas Bowl and get the last laugh.

“It’s not an easy offense to defend,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I thought we prepared for it. They’re really good at what they do.”

On fourth and goal from the three-yard line in overtime, Army elected to go for it rather than kick the field goal. With most of the 39,117 in attendance at the Cotton Bowl on their feet, the Black Knights snapped the ball and took off for the right side on a sweep. Seconds later, they were in the endzone, holding a lead and a massive shift in momentum.

North Texas was unable to match the score.

The Mean Green went four-and-out after a broken play on fourth down resulted in a heave downfield that fell harmlessly incomplete. When the ball hit the turf, Army rushed the field, and North Texas couldn’t wait to get off it.

“We weren’t quite disciplined enough and we weren’t quite physical enough,” junior defensive end Andy Flusche said. “We had some big plays that got us.”

The Black Knights broke off runs of 70 and 65 yards that acted as body blows to the Mean Green. Just when North Texas was able to string together a drive or get points, Army came right back and answered.

North Texas junior kicker Trevor Moore (30) celebrates on the sideline after hitting the game tying field goal with 28 seconds left in the game against Army to force overtime in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

North Texas junior kicker Trevor Moore (30) celebrates on the sideline after hitting the game tying field goal with 28 seconds left in the game against Army to force overtime in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

The inability to get off the field on defense ultimately made a career day by fifth-year senior Alec Morris a moot point. In his last collegiate football game, Morris went 26-of-36 for 304 yards and three touchdowns. With under two minutes remaining and trailing 31-28, Morris orchestrated a drive that ended in the game-tying field goal that sent the game to overtime.

“We would have liked to put it in the endzone and not gone to overtime,” Morris said. “This year has been a lot like this game. Not exactly how you want to write it, but it’s been a great experience. I hate having to end it this way.”

Despite Morris’ career performance, it was a dreadful defense that doomed the Mean Green.

In their win over Army in October, North Texas forced seven turnovers. On Tuesday, the Mean Green managed only one – a muffed punt that was recovered. As a result, the Black Knights set the Heart of Dallas bowl record for rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and time of possession.

And more importantly, hoisted the Heart of Dallas Bowl trophy while North Texas trotted somberly back to the dressing room.

“I felt like we were at our best coming into this game,” Littrell said. “I have nothing not to be proud of. I had a lot of fun.”

Featured Image: Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (17) gets tackled inside North Texas’ 5 yard line in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell was the Editor-in-Chief of the North Texas Daily from May 2017 to December 2017. He previously served as the Sports Editor and Senior Sports Writer. Reece also worked at The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV.

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