The Mean Green hosted their second game of the season tonight against FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman. Although the Wildcats were scheduled as a gimme, North Texas fans that remember the 66-7 loss to FCS Portland State were anything but confident going into kickoff. North Texas showed that history would not repeat itself as they defeated Bethune-Cookman 41-20.
The biggest story going into the game for the Mean Green was the quarterback battle between Alec Morris and Mason Fine. Alec Morris, a graduate transfer from Alabama, won the starting spot during fall camp but did not look very impressive in his week one debut against SMU. True freshman, Mason Fine, got some playing time at the end of the game last week and looked impressive enough to earn the start this week against the Wildcats. Fine would not disappoint as he showed a glimpse of what the future of North Texas may look like.
The Wildcats opened the game with a 7-0 lead after a punt return that likely gave many fans flashbacks of last season. That would be the only time that Bethune-Cookman led as North Texas responded with 31 unanswered points. Although Mason Fine did not throw a touchdown pass, the offense looked much more cohesive with him under center. The fast-paced mentality of Seth Littrell combined with Fine’s ability to speed up the tempo of the game and buy himself time in the backfield proved to be a recipe for success.
After improving in the second half of last week’s loss, the Mean Green defense took care of business throughout the game. Bethune-Cookman was only allowed 231 total yards, despite having the ball for just over 26 minutes of the game. The largest test of the night came after the Wildcats blocked a punt and started their drive inside the North Texas 10 yard line. The Mean Green forced a four and out to make the statement that this year may just be better than last.
North Texas’ rushing game was the true highlight of the night, tallying up 329 yards and 4 touchdowns. Willie Ivery and Jeffery Wilson combined for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the charge on the ground. Wilson, however, sat most of the second half with a minor injury that should not sideline him for next week. North Texas had 4 running backs rush for a minimum of 35 yards to show off the depth that they’ve been building on the ground. That depth will be put to the ultimate test next week as they take on Florida in The Swamp.
After a rough loss last week, this was a must win game for North Texas to keep any support from its fan base and keep spirits high on the sideline. The win also marks the first for Seth Littrell as head coach of the Mean Green. Coach Littrell came in with high expectations of a fast passed offense that would be able to put up big numbers. Tonight was the first true peak at what Littrell and North Texas may have in store for the future.