North Texas Daily

RECAP: SMU outlasts football in 35-12 contest Saturday night

RECAP: SMU outlasts football in 35-12 contest Saturday night

RECAP: SMU outlasts football in 35-12 contest Saturday night
September 12
19:25 2021

North Texas fell to rival Southern Methodist University 35-12 Saturday night. The game was 7 to 6 in favor of SMU at halftime.

“Losing hurts, and it should,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I felt especially early on defense did enough to keep [North Texas] in the game and allow us to have an opportunity to win the football game, we just couldn’t get enough going offensively.”

Two field goals from senior kicker Ethan Mooney started the night’s scoring — both were a result of North Texas failing to score a touchdown in the red zone. 

The first half saw the North Texas (1-1, 0-0 Conference USA) defense zoned in as they forced three of their four turnovers of the night. Senior linebacker Tyreke Davis forced a fumble and junior defensive back John Davis Jr. snagged an interception. Senior defensive lineman Dion Novil also recorded one tackle on the night along with his first career interception.

“[North Texas’ defense] was just locked into our assignments [in the first half],” Novil said. “Second half it was poor communication.”

The Mean Green were vulnerable to the big play Saturday night. The first-half touchdown by SMU (2-0, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) was scored on a 69-yard reception from junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai to junior receiver Rashee Rice. The opening score of the second half was a 58-yard touchdown reception by junior SMU receiver Danny Gray. 

“Those big plays hurt,” Littrell said. “On offense, if you’re sputtering, sputtering, it [puts] fatigue on the defense.”

Following a third-quarter touchdown by freshman running back Isaiah Johnson, and a failed two-point conversion, North Texas did not score for the remainder of the night. SMU scored 21 unanswered to close the game. 

North Texas sophomore quarterback Jace Ruder finished with 366 yards through the air, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“Another opportunity for us to get better,” Ruder said. “Defense played their butts off all night long…offensively [the game’s] on us, we got to finish drives.” 

Two receivers had career nights for North Texas. Senior receivers Roderic Burns caught 12 passes for 141 yards while sophomore Jyaire Shorter caught 6 for 107 yards. The 141 yards through the air was Burns’ career high.

Mordecai finished the night with 312 yards passing with four touchdowns, bringing his total to 11 touchdowns on the year.

North Texas returns to Denton on Saturday, as the team opens C-USA play up with a matchup against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

“We’ll continue to fight together, and we’ll be fine,” Littrell said.

Image source: Twitter

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

fall sports editor

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