North Texas Daily

Smiley goes out with a bang in final game at Apogee Stadium

Smiley goes out with a bang in final game at Apogee Stadium

November 18
23:10 2017

Late in the first half of North Texas’ final home game against Army, sophomore quarterback Mason Fine rolled right and didn’t have many options. As he approached the sideline, he saw sophomore receiver Jalen Guyton breaking open and slung the ball to him, hitting Guyton right in the numbers. 

He appeared to make the catch until an Army defender launched himself at an airborne Guyton, who then dropped the ball and lied motionless on the turf after attempting to get up. The play was initially called targeting but was overturned after review.

Guyton was helped to the locker room and did not return for the second half.

In stepped senior Turner Smiley.

Playing in his final game at Apogee Stadium, Smiley caught two huge touchdown passes for 45 and 68-yards as well as a crucial 10-yard pass that put senior Trevor Moore in field-goal range for the game-winner with five seconds left.

With the kick, North Texas defeated the Black Knights 52-49 Saturday night as they finished the season undefeated at home for the first time since 2003.

“To be undefeated at home, it’s amazing,” Smiley said. “I’m happy for all of us seniors who have been through so much here. It’s nice to finish my career like this and it’s a great feeling.”

Once Smiley saw Guyton went down, his mindset changed, knowing he had a big and explosive role to fill.

While he finished with just three catches, Smiley made the Army safeties pay for not respecting the deep ball on two separate occasions.

“[It was] just picking up the slack,” Smiley said. “Play how he would play, make plays out there. You never want to see one of your teammates go down like that, but it gave us energy because we wanted to play well for him.”

Smiley’s longest catch came on a deep post route and gave the team a 49-42 lead with 3:13 left.

“Smiley had a big night,” Littrell said. “He made a lot of clutch plays and none bigger than that last one he caught on that deep post. It’s awesome for a guy like that who’s been here. He’s seen it from the bad times to where we’re at right now. It’s really cool to see him go out like this at home and have such a big game.”

The post Littrell mentioned came after Fine missed a throw on the prior play to sophomore receiver Rico Bussey. Fine was looking to avenge the missed throw and did just that to Smiley to give North Texas a late lead.

The score was something Fine expected from Smiley in the senior receiver’s final home game.

“Turner practices hard throughout the week,” Fine said. “When the opportunity is there he attacks it and usually takes it and comes up big. That’s what playmakers do and I know I can count on him.”

Being at North Texas through the ups of this 8-3 season to the downs of the infamous 1-11 season, Smiley ended his rollercoaster of a career with one more big game at home when North Texas needed him the most.

Nearly 26,392 fans cheered him on has he trotted into the end zone for his second touchdown – a perfect ending to his career at home that he could not have written any better himself.

“If you got to create your last home game that’s how you’d want it to go,” Smiley said. “Going out with a bang.”

Featured Image: North Texas senior wide receiver Turner Smiley (1) catches a pass for a touchdown against Army. 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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