North Texas Daily

The fake punt that led the Mean Green to victory

The fake punt that led the Mean Green to victory

October 08
23:28 2016

In the third quarter of Saturday’s bout against Marshall University, senior punter Eric Keena marched out to pin the Thundering Herd deep in its own territory.

Or at least that’s what it looked like.

Keena had other plans in mind. He looked up, saw how Marshall was lined up on its return, and decided to tuck the ball in and take off on his own. Keena ran 18 yards and picked up the first down before being knocked into the Marshall sidelines.

The play riled up nearly everyone in Apogee Stadium, with the exception of the Thundering Herd faithful.

“It was not a designed fake,” Keena said with a smile. “I saw their whole team turn and go. I decided to take off to the left. It was a big spark to not only our offense but to our fans. We really enjoyed that.”

Keena was hit out of bounds as he was slowing down, which raised some eyebrows from Mean Green fans looking for a flag. Keena was surrounded by white Marshall jerseys, but he gave a shove to the defender who hit him out of play.

Those white jerseys converged on Keena like bees to honey. He knew the trouble he had stirred.

“I thought he hit me kind of late,” Keena said. “I shouldn’t have pushed on their sideline. Right when I pushed him, all their guys surrounded me yelling. It’s alright. I made it out of there.”

Keena received a 15-yard taunting penalty for his trouble-making. But it was all worth it to him, because he got the first down.

“If I didn’t get the first down I knew [special team’s coordinator Tommy Perry] would be pretty upset with me,” Keena said. “It was a huge opening. I had to take it.”

The teams skirmished after Keena stirred the pot on the other side. After the dust settled, it was a good thing that Keena decided to call his own number, as the first down gave North Texas new life, which it used to take a 21-14 lead after the freshman duo of Mason Fine and Tyler Wilson connected from 11-yards out.

It was a massive spark for the Mean Green, and a big reason North Texas was able to hang on 38-21. The Mean Green are now .500 at the halfway point of the season, with bowl game hopes still in-tact.

“The last couple of weeks we’ve been getting better and better,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “Tonight was really exciting. We had some mistakes, but overall I thought we played well together. They’re a good team and we knew it would be a big challenge.”

His team was up to the challenge. Led by a career day from junior running-back Jeffrey Wilson, the Mean Green punished Marshall on the ground to the tune of 252 yards rushing. Wilson finished with 186 yards on 26 carries. He put the cherry on top when he put the Mean Green ahead for good with a 72-yard touchdown run in the third to make it 28-21.

Wilson left the game with an injury, but with the upcoming bye-week, Littrell is confident he will get healthy.

As for the victory, North Texas intends to use it as a building block as the season enters the home stretch.

“It’s a huge win,” Fine said. “It gives us some momentum and will help us in achieving our goals.”

Featured Image: North Texas freshman wide receiver Tyler Wilson (83) and freshman quarterback Mason Fine (6) celebrate a touchdown that put them ahead of Marshall. The Mean Green offense put up 206 passing yards and one passing touchdown in their 38-21 win over Marshall. Nathan Roberts

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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1 Comment

  1. Kennek Up
    Kennek Up October 09, 02:25

    Keep things in perspective. The three wins came against teams with a combined record of one win and thirteen losses.

    Reply to this comment

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