Torrey, defense shine in Homecoming victory over Rice

Torrey, defense shine in Homecoming victory over Rice

Torrey, defense shine in Homecoming victory over Rice
October 29
13:20 2018

After being close throughout the first three quarters, North Texas scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth to win 41-17 over the Rice Owls in Saturday’s Homecoming game.

Sophomore running back Deandre Torrey rushed for a career-high 130 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. This marks Torrey’s third game of the season with three or more touchdowns.

Torrey made some mistakes with communication assignments early in the game, but he said he knew he had to step up.

“My coach got on to me [after the mistakes], and I knew I had to lock-in and that the team needed me tonight,” Torrey said. “We were down because Nick Smith didn’t play tonight due to injury, so I knew I had to step up and do whatever I could for the team. That really kept me motivated.”

Rice scored on its opening possession with a 75-yard drive to give them a 7-0 lead over the Mean Green. North Texas kicker Cole Hedlund converted a 42-yard field goal on the ensuing drive to trim the deficit 7-3.

On the Mean Green’s next drive, quarterback Mason Fine found wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. behind the Rice secondary for a 68-yard touchdown, giving North Texas a 10-7 lead after the first quarter.

Bussey Jr.  finished the game with a career-high 145 receiving yards on four catches with a touchdown. His 68-yard play was the Mean Green’s longest offensive play of the season.

Rice later ended up capitalizing on a pair of fumbles from the Mean Green that resulted in 10 points and would eventually tie the game at 17.

Entering the fourth quarter with a 20-17 lead, North Texas produced an 11 play, 95-yard drive, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Fine to Torrey.

Fine, who was 18 of 35 for 333 yards and two touchdowns, says that the drive was a huge momentum changer for the team moving forward during the game.

“We needed to score right there and it’s great that we did in order to take the pressure off our defense and increase our lead,” Fine said. “Anytime you score, it just creates that momentum.”

It proved to be the case as North Texas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. The defense meanwhile allowed Rice just 28 yards on 17 plays over its next five possessions after the game was tied at 17.

In the fourth quarter, North Texas linebacker Joe Ozougwu hit the quarterback while he was throwing, causing a fumble that was picked up by linebacker Brandon Garner.

Ozougwu came away with seven tackles, two of which were for a loss, and a sack for the day.

Despite the turnovers and adversity playing a factor early on, head coach Seth Littrell was glad to see his players keep their composure on the sideline and not turn on each other.

“I was proud of the way our guys finished the football game,” Littrell said. “We had a lot of adversity in the second and third quarter with a couple of turnovers, and it kind of sputtered out a little bit at times offensively, but I was really proud of how the team came together. There was no finger pointing. They encouraged each other very well and kept the positivity on the sideline and finished the game the right way.”

Littrell was glad to see his team pull out the win during homecoming week, especially knowing the team will get a week to rest before playing its next game.

“It’s always great on Homecoming to come out with a victory and [being] proud of the ways our guys finished,” Littrell said. “We have a lot to clean up going into a much-needed off-week. Going nine straight games can be physically draining and mentally draining.”

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore Deandre Torrey celebrates after scoring a touchdown in a game against Rice on Oct. 27 at Apogee Stadium. Sara Carpenter

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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