Wednesday, November 27, 2019

North Texas 14, Rice 20

Last Saturday was a sunny and cool November day - a perfect afternoon for football. So I went over to Rice Stadium, hoping to see the Mean Green secure bowl eligibility with a victory over one-win Rice. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned.

The Good: Down 20-0 at halftime, North Texas rallied to score 14 unanswered points while holding the Owls scoreless the entire second half. Quarterback Mason Fine and running back Tre Stiggers both scored rushing touchdowns, and UNT special teams recovered an Owl fumble on a punt return deep in Rice territory midway through the fourth quarter to keep hopes of a UNT win alive.

The Bad: North Texas botched the ensuing drive, as a holding penalty and three incomplete passes by Fine (who had a rather mediocre day, completing only 17 of 32 passes for 163 yards, no touchdowns and one interception) prevented the Mean Green from reaching the endzone. Rice recovered the ball on downs and ran out the clock to secure the win.

The Ugly: The first half. The Mean Green were outgained by Rice 228 yards to 51; North Texas didn't even record its first first down of the game until the 2:28 mark of the second quarter! The lone bright spot for UNT in the first half was the recovery of a Rice fumble - and they fumbled the ball back to Rice one play later!

What It Means: A 2019 season that was supposed to see North Texas compete for the C-USA west title will end in disappointment, as the Mean Green have assured themselves of a losing record. The Owls have won consecutive games for the first time since 2016.

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