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North Texas’ defense showed dominance in win over Southern Miss

North Texas’ defense showed dominance in win over Southern Miss

North Texas’ defense showed dominance in win over Southern Miss
October 15
15:02 2018

Two of the top defenses in Conference USA squared off on Saturday as North Texas faced off against Southern Miss. It was a low scoring affair through three quarters, but North Texas was able to capitalize on key turnovers en route to winning 30-7.

With the win, the Mean Green (6-1, 2-1 C-USA) are now bowl-eligible and off to their best start since the 1988 season, thanks in large part to the defense.

“Unbelievable,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “That’s something we’ve seen and we know we can accomplish that. When they’re locked in and on the same page while playing hard together and they start getting that momentum, it’s extremely hard to move the football on them.”

After both teams were held scoreless through one quarter for the first time this season, North Texas quarterback Mason Fine scrambled out of the pocket to find Jalen Guyton behind the Golden Eagles secondary for a 53-yard touchdown pass.

Guyton — who had a 14 catches 211 yards and one touchdown last year against Southern Miss — finished the evening with seven catches for 124 yards and one touchdown.

“I’m always confident in JG,” Fine said. “I know he’s gonna make the plays the same as all my receivers. I thought he caught the ball well, made a lot of good plays catching it in coverage and got yards after the catch.”

After Guyton’s touchdown, Southern Miss responded with a touchdown of their own after Golden Eagle receiver Quez Watkins scored on a 44-yard catch and run.

In the second quarter, redshirt junior defensive back Taylor Robinson came up with an interception, his second and the defense’s 13th of the season. Both offenses struggled to find the end zone, with North Texas only managing to take a 10-7 lead at the half despite Robinson’s interception.

During their second drive of the third quarter, Southern Miss drove the ball 75 yards in six plays all the way to the Mean Green 8-yard line hoping to take the lead. North Texas safety Khairi Muhammad made a strip fumble recovery after ripping the ball out of the hands of the intended receiver just after he caught it.

“When he caught it, it was just sitting on his shoulder, so I knew I could get one hand in and strip it out, so I just went for it,” Muhammad said. “We just needed a big play, and they had the momentum when they were driving, so I just had to make a big play for my team.”

After, the play proved to be a game changer as the Southern Miss offense continuously failed to get into red-zone territory.

After a few back-and-forth drives between both teams, sophomore running-back DeAndre Torrey ran in a touchdown from six yards out.

Torrey then scored two touchdowns from 8 and 34 yards out in the fourth quarter to put the Mean Green ahead to a final score of 30-7. Torrey would finish the game carrying the ball 17 times for a total of 95 yards and three touchdowns.

During the game, quarterback Mason Fine became North Texas’ all-time leader in completions with 653. He finished the day 24 out of 38 for 292 yards and a touchdown. While he said he was relieved to have a defense that was able to take pressure off for most of the game, he still believes the offense has a lot to improve on.

“Offensively, we haven’t reached our full potential yet and that upsets me, to be honest,” Fine said. “Our defense has had our backs all season, so it’s time for our offense to step up, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Despite being bowl-eligible midway through the season, senior linebacker E.J. Ejiya says the team has bigger goals moving forward.

“It’s a great feeling for the program, but we have our eyes set on something bigger than that,” Ejiya said. “We’re looking for a conference championship ring, and in order to do that, we just have to come back every week and just reset [and] keep on moving.”

Featured Image: Mean Green players embrace during a game against Southern Miss on Oct. 13 at Apogee Stadium. The final score was 30-7, so the Mean Green have progressed to 6-1, making them bowl-eligible. Sarah Matthews

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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