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North Texas’ defense comes up big in win over Old Dominion

North Texas’ defense comes up big in win over Old Dominion

October 28
23:01 2017

North Texas met Old Dominion University for the first time in program history Saturday night at Apogee Stadium.

And in what head coach Seth Littrell described as a “weird game,” the Mean Green (5-3, 4-1) knocked off the Monarchs (2-6, 0-4) 45-38. Despite a bevy of strange plays, North Texas used a fourth quarter comeback to eventually down upset-minded Old Dominion.

A 20-yard burst by redshirt freshman Nic Smith put North Texas up for good with under seven and a half minutes left. On the Monarch’s final four drives, the Mean Green defense forced one fumble and three consecutive three turnovers on downs, essentially sealing the game for North Texas.

The defense gave up just two offensive touchdowns, and only one of the three Old Dominion field goals was a result of a drive that lasted 31 or more yards. The other two came after two Mean Green turnovers with the defense standing tall on a short field both times.

The North Texas offense went to work early against ODU, scoring on four of their first five possessions as sophomore quarterback Mason Fine started 10-of-10 to lead the charge.

Fine ended the game completing 25-of-36 passes for 309 yards and one touchdown along with one interception. He also sealed the game with a 9-yard run on third-and-eight, preventing the Monarchs from getting a sniff at the ball in the final minute.

Coming off of a game in which Florida Atlantic University restricted Fine to sophomore Michael Lawrence almost exclusively, four receivers had at least three catches in the win over ODU. Sophomore Rico Bussey Jr., who totaled 111 yards and one touchdown on seven catches, led the receiving corps.

The running back trio of senior Jeffery Wilson, freshmen Nic Smith and Evan Johnson combined for 144 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. Wilson left the game to get a neck roll fitted in the first quarter and had a near fumble before losing fumble early in the second.

Wilson did not return to the game after the turnover, as Littrell went with Smith for the majority of the night in the backfield.

The Old Dominion special teams unit kept the Monarchs in the game early, returning two kickoffs for the team’s first two touchdowns of the game, both courtesy of Isaiah Harper. He singlehandedly never let the Mean Green pull away.

The Monarchs’ true freshman quarterback Steven Williams Jr. put up 181 yards on 21-of-35 passing and added one touchdown and 55 yards on the ground. Junior Jeremy Cox, who finished the night with 110 yards on 24 carries, was the team’s leading rusher.

The Mean Green defense was led by senior safety Kishawn McClain, who had 11 tackles and one tackle for loss, along with senior linebacker E.J. Ejiya who had 10 tackles and one TFL.

Senior defensive lineman Andy Flusche deflected a pass and came down with his first career interception with 8:27 left in the 3rd quarter.

Taylor Robinson blocked a punt that Evan Johnson returned 40 yards for a touchdown, but senior kicker Trevor Moore uncharacteristically missed a 40-yard field goal. Moore ended the game 1-of-2. The special teams’ blunders contributed to the strange nature of the game.

While Moore missed his first field goal attempt, it was his leg that locked the game at 38-38 with 10:45 left in regulation.

With the win, North Texas claimed sole possession of first place in the West division of Conference USA and will travel to take on Louisiana Tech University next week.

Featured Image: North Texas defensive players tackle an Old Dominion University ball carrier. ODU lost the game 45-38. 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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