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The Mean Green won the biggest game of its season; now they have to do it again

The Mean Green won the biggest game of its season; now they have to do it again

Junior running back Willy Ivery celebrates after scoring late against Southern Miss. Colin Mitchell

The Mean Green won the biggest game of its season; now they have to do it again
November 19
21:36 2016

With under 10 minutes remaining in a 23-20 game that his team was trailing, graduate quarterback Alec Morris led the North Texas offense back out onto the Apogee Stadium turf on senior day.

The Mean Green knew what needed to happen – they needed to take the lead.

With their season and bowl hopes hanging in the balance, North Texas knew what was at stake, just like Morris knew it would be one of the last times he would quarterback a football team at home.

And in front of his friends, family and fans of just one season, Morris strung together three quick completions to get the Mean Green moving.

The rust of a 1-for-6 start to the second half had been shaken off.

“We weren’t doing very well and everyone knew that,” Morris said. “That’s not something you think about. Going out every single drive you have to think this is the drive where we’re going to move down the field. With that mentality, it all came together and clicked.”

As Morris found his rhthym, so did the North Texas offense.

A few plays later, junior running back Willy Ivery shook off defenders and scampered 11 yards past the entire Southern Miss defense and found pay dirt to bookend the game-winning drive.

North Texas re-took the lead on its home field in the final game for its seniors.

“We knew what was at stake,” Morris said. “We had to have that win, and I think everyone knew the gravity of the situation. I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel good.”

Junior wide receiver Turner Smiley jukes a defender in the first half against Southern Miss. Colin Mitchell

Junior wide receiver Turner Smiley jukes a defender in the first half against Southern Miss. Colin Mitchell

The lead held, and the Mean Green won 29-23.

Phase one is complete. Phase two comes next Saturday against the University of Texas at El Paso.

Win, and they’re in.

“This was a great team win for us,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “Now we’ve got one more.”

One more is all it takes.

The battle on the border next Saturday is now the only game that matters in the grand scheme of this season. Littrell and his side set out the goal of making and winning a bowl game this season, and that goal is now at their fingertips.

Ivery had 111 yards in the win over the Golden Eagles, filling the hole left by the season-ending injury to junior running back Jeffery Wilson. Junior wide receiver Turner Smiley had 162 yards receiving and junior corner Nate Brooks had two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Brooks was left on an island by plenty of Southern Miss’ play calls in one-on-one coverage, but he shined with a chip on his shoulder.

“I feel like I played how I should have played all year,” Brooks said. “Leaving me on that island is inviting me to make my plays.”

The Mean Green had players on both sides of the ball step up in the biggest game of the year.

Now next week is the biggest game of the year – again.

“All our goals are still in front of us and when that’s the case, it makes life a whole lot easier,” Littrell said. “We talk a lot about diversity, and how we overcome it, and that’s what it comes down to. Everybody executing, doing their job and not trying to do too much.”

Featured Image: Junior running back Willy Ivery celebrates after scoring late against Southern Miss. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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1 Comment

  1. Kennel Up
    Kennel Up November 22, 03:10

    Hope they have the sense to start Alec.

    Reply to this comment

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