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Mission not accomplished: Mean Green drop nail biter to Army in Heart of Dallas Bowl

Mission not accomplished: Mean Green drop nail biter to Army in Heart of Dallas Bowl

December 27
16:31 2016

Facing 4th and nine, the Mean Green knew what was at stake in overtime at the Cotton Bowl – the goal they set at the before the season began of winning a bowl game was in danger.

Senior quarterback Alec Morris took the snap, one that had the chance to be the final of his career. He rolled right and attempted to find senior wide receiver Thaddeous Thompson near the end zone.

But as fate would have it, it was not to be.

The ball fell dead on the grass, and with it, so did the Mean Green’s hopes. Army stormed the field with a 38-31 Heart of Dallas Bowl victory in hand. 

“We may not have accomplished our mission,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “But these men accomplished a lot this season. The things that they did accomplished setting a solid foundation of brotherhood and great chemistry. I’ll forever be indebted to these men. They taught me a lot this season and they’ll always be family to me.”

The effort fell just short, but for a group of players who had to prove what a program that went 1-11 last season could do, an appearance in a local bowl game could mean more than maybe what the heartbroken locker room may realize.

“I felt like we were at our best coming into this game,” Littrell said. “Although we didn’t win the game, we got better today as well. I don’t look at last year. It’s what they did in the past. It’s what we’re going to do now and in the future. They’ve done an incredible job of setting a solid foundation. We will have success.”

Despite the loss, Morris and the offense fought until the bitter end.

Morris had a career day, finishing with 304 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-38 passing. He led a drive in the final two minutes that resulted in a game-tying field goal that forced overtime.

North Texas senior running back Alec Morris looks to pass to the outside with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter against Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

North Texas senior running back Alec Morris looks to pass to the outside with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter against Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

Unfortunately, Army’s patented triple-option attack proved to be too much. The Black Knights had four rushers total over 50 yards on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw led the way with 129 yards, and sophomore running back Darnell Woolfolk followed him up with 119 yards of his own.

And on their first possession of overtime, Army put its triple-option to use one final time. The Black Knights opted to go for it on fourth and goal from the three-yard line, and punched it in for what would be the game-winning score.

“The triple option is a tough offense to defend,” senior linebacker Fred Scott said. “You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ll get exposed and that happened a couple of times today. We should have been more disciplined.”

For Morris, it marks the end of his collegiate career after winning two national championships as a backup at Alabama. But undoubtedly, this was the biggest game of Morris’ career – and one he and the rest of North Texas will remember forever.

“I think everyone can hang their hats on this performance,” Morris said. “There’s plays that didn’t go our way, but I think if we look back, everyone gave effort. Everyone was competing as hard as they can. It didn’t turn out how we wanted.”

Featured Image: North Texas senior quarterback Alec Morris (5) walks off the field after losing to Army 38-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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