North Texas Daily

RECAP: North Texas defense shines on senior day

RECAP: North Texas defense shines on senior day

RECAP: North Texas defense shines on senior day
November 21
22:31 2020

The North Texas (3-3, 2-2 Conference USA) defensive side of the ball paved the path to a 27-17 win over Rice (1-2, 1-2 C-USA) as the Mean Green sacked the quarterback seven times, forced four fumbles and stopping the Owls on fourth down twice.

With the win over Rice, North Texas has its first winning streak since Nov. 24, 2018, when the Mean Green defeated UTSA 24-21.

Senior nose tackle Dion Novil led the Mean Green defense on the day with eight tackles, five tackles-for-loss and a sack.

“It’s all going to start up from the guys up front,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “[Novil] really started clicking [against Middle Tennesee] five weeks ago and I think that light bulb went off. The last two games, he’s played his best since he’s been here.”

North Texas and Rice heading into Saturday afternoon’s matchup faced multiple game postponements or cancellations in a row, including the Owls playing their first game in Week 8 on Oct. 24 against Middle Tennessee.

Before the game started, North Texas held a senior day ceremony in case the home game scheduled for Louisiana Tech on Dec. 5 is canceled.

The Owls jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, coming on a field goal in their first possession and a 14-yard touchdown pass from graduate transfer quarterback Mike Collins to senior receiver Austin Trammel.

“You’re going to be rusty after not playing for 35 days,” Novil said. “Everyone knew once we got through that first quarter, we knocked that rust off and everyone started to play well. That first quarter was a wakeup call and there were some errors. We made adjustments and started to make plays.”

Through the first three offensive possessions, North Texas punted. Sophomore quarterback Jason Bean put the Mean Green on the board with a 66-yard touchdown run.

North Texas gained the lead before halftime on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Bean to senior receiver Jaelon Darden, dodging multiple Owl defenders reaching the end zone.

The Owls were held off the scoreboard in the second and third quarters, turning the ball over on two fumbles and failing to convert on fourth down inside their own territory.

North Texas’ rushing attack provided most of the offense’s production, where the team rushed for 269 yards and passed for 129 yards. Senior running back DeAndre Torrey led the offense with 102 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 27-10. Bean rushed for 94 yards on five carries.

Sophomore running back Oscar Adaway III made his first return of the season against Rice, previously facing an injury since Week 3’s matchup against SMU. He rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries.

“I was proud of the way our guys competed,” Littrell said. “It wasn’t always clean and I told everyone you’re going to win games like that. They’re not always going to be perfect in all three phases. When we got settled defensively, the coaches did a great job with run fits and that completely dominated the game.”

North Texas will travel to San Antonio next Saturday facing UTSA (6-4, 4-2 C-USA). The Roadrunners defeated Southern Miss (2-7, 1-4 C-USA) 23-20 Saturday afternoon on the road.

Featured Image: Freshman linebacker Jordan Brown and junior linebacker KD Davis celebrate after forcing fourth down against Rice on Nov. 21, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Preston Rios

Preston Rios

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