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North Texas prepares for last showdown with Mustangs in Fine Era

North Texas prepares for last showdown with Mustangs in Fine Era

North Texas prepares for last showdown with Mustangs in Fine Era
September 05
21:51 2019

North Texas football (1-0) will take on the Southern Methodist Mustangs (1-0) in the annual metroplex rivalry game. This will be the Mean Green’s last matchup against the Mustangs with senior quarterback Mason Fine leading their offensive unit. Southern Methodist’s senior quarterback Shane Buechele, who recently transferred from Texas, threw for 360 yards and an interception in their season-opening win against Arkansas State.

“I thought [Buchele] managed the offense really well,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “You can really tell he understands defenses and coverage, [he’s] a really smart player. He’s definitely a great weapon for them.”

Jason Pirtle, redshirt junior tight end, scored three touchdowns in his first career start against Abilene Christian and hopes to carry that momentum into the next game. Pirtle’s connection with Fine didn’t begin in Denton, however. The two attended the same high school in Locust Grove, Oklahoma — Locust Grove High School. The duo registered 3,798 yards of offense and 48 touchdowns in the two years they played together.

“A lot of my success in high school was attributed to Pirtle,” Fine said. “He was always out there with me doing the same thing, if not putting in more work. He was my go-to receiver. He wasn’t the fastest, but he’s a great route runner.”

The Mean Green introduced a new linebacker duo this season with junior Tyreke Davis and sophomore KD Davis. In the offseason, Tyreke Davis descended from the secondary and was moved to middle linebacker. After winning the season opener, Davis registered a stat line of three tackles (one solo) and a fumble recovery. Weakside linebacker KD Davis spoke very highly of him in light of it being the first time the two players started together in a game. KD Davis registered nine tackles (three solo) against the Wildcats.

Sophomore linebacker KD Davis prepares for Abilene Christian to snap the ball as the evening light shines into Apogee Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard

“When I’m playing next to [Tyreke Davis] we’re always on the same page,” Davis said. “We’ve been working with each other since last spring, so we’ve grown together. We know what we’re supposed to do and we can trust each other, that’s the thing.”

Southern Methodist is coming off a 37-30 win against Arkansas State where Buchele went 30-for-49 but was unable to score a touchdown through the air. Junior wideout Reggie Roberson Jr. led the Mustangs in receptions (11) and receiving yards (180).

Their ground game focused around senior running backs Ke’mon Freeman and Xavier Jones and functioned in a committee. Freeman led in carries (22) and rushing yards (86) while Jones rushed 18 times for 56 yards and three touchdowns. The Mustangs managed 508 total yards on offense with only one turnover.

“They have weapons at running back and receiver and they’re very explosive, so I think they were obviously clicking offensively,” Littrell said. “We understand the challenges, but we got to make sure we focus in on doing our job.”

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Mustangs are favored to win the matchup with a win chance of 68.3. Southern Methodist also has history on their side as the Mean Green have not won a game in Dallas since 1933.

“It is what it is, it’s a fact,” Littrell said. “We got to make sure we do a great job this week and prepare. When the whistle blows, 1933 is not going to come in the mind of any of our players.”

Featured Image: Redshirt sophomore linebacker Chris Thornton (left) and freshman linebacker Gabriel Murphy hype up the crowd after an Abeline Christian player makes a fair catch at Apogee Stadium on Aug 31, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard

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Matthew Suarez

Matthew Suarez

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