North Texas over­whelms Army, 35-18

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Kekis AP Sports Writer

North Texas coach Seth Lit­trell seemed a lit­tle worn out at the end of the game, and it was un­der­stand­able. The Mean Green had beaten Army for the first time in five tries and he had re­peat­edly jumped and spun around on the side­lines amidst a flurry of turnovers by the Black Knights.

Fac­ing the sec­ond-rated de­fense in the na­tion, Jef­frey Wil­son rushed for 160 yards and three touch­downs and North Texas beat Army 35-18 on a wet, raw Satur­day at Michie Sta­dium.

“We ended up get­ting seven turnovers, and that’s key,” Lit­trell said. “De­fen­sive guys did a great job of mak­ing those op­por­tu­ni­ties count. I was a bone­head

in the first half, to be hon­est. We should have run the ball more.”

Fresh from a bye week, North Texas (4-3) ral­lied in the sec­ond half be­hind Wil­son, who was coming off a ca­reer-high 188-yard per­for­mance two weeks ago against Mar­shall. Wil­son scored on a 41-yard run and 1-yard plunge in the third quar­ter as the Mean Green stunned the Black Knights.

“With­out a doubt, there’s no other an­swer, sim­ply our O-line,” Wil­son said. “They came out to­day with fire in their eyes and I could see if from the jump. We knew we wasn’t go­ing to start off fast, but we know that if we keep on pick­ing away and pick­ing away and pick­ing away that we’ll even­tu­ally do what we came to do. And that’s ex­actly what hap­pened.”

Army (4-3) en­tered the game ranked sec­ond against the run, al­low­ing

just 99 yards per game.

Wil­son, held to seven yards rush­ing on two car­ries in the first half, staked the Mean Green to a 21-10 lead early in the third when he slith­ered through the left side of the de­fen­sive line and raced un­touched for 41 yards and a touch­down. He had 153 yards on 13 car­ries in the sec­ond.

The Black Knights seemed ready to counter right back, but quar­ter­back Ah­mad Brad­shaw fum­bled a snap on fourt­hand-inches at mid­field and the Mean Green took pos­ses­sion.

“It’s hard to score when you don’t have the ball,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “To give the ball back to them is ago­niz­ing. Those plays kill drives, kill the mo­men­tum.”

Mo­ments later, Army de­fen­sive back Eli­jah Ri­ley was poised to make an in­ter­cep­tion but slipped down as he turned to catch the ball. That left Wil­lie Robin­son all alone for a 26-yard catch and Wil­son’s 1-yard run boosted the lead

to 28-10 mid­way through the third.

“They did a good job de­fen­sively against our of­fense in the first half,” Lit­trell said. “What they do against the run game has been im­pres­sive, so I prob­a­bly was try­ing to get the back end go­ing a lit­tle bit. We had some stuff we missed early. The way our of­fen­sive line came off the ball and Jef­frey ran the ball, that was the dif­fer­ence.”

North Texas sealed the vic­tory on a turnover. Army was driv­ing at mid­field early in the fourth, but af­ter a long gain on the first re­cep­tion of his ca­reer that had caught the North Texas de­fense off-guard, tight end Dal­ton Men­den­hall had the ball stripped by Eric Jenk­ins and the Mean Green re­cov­ered at its own 12-yard line.

Army fin­ished with 302 yards rush­ing, 53 yards be­low its na­tion-lead­ing av­er­age. Brad­shaw led with 90 yards on 24 car­ries.

Monken had a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion for the loss.

“We got whipped in ev­ery phase,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s much more to say.”

THE TAKE­AWAY

ARMY: If the Black Knights can con­trol the turnovers, they still can con­tend to play in the post­sea­son. Army can’t af­ford to make those mis­takes to have a chance to win, with the likes of Wake For­est, Notre Dame, Air Force and Navy still on the sched­ule.

NORTH TEXAS: With a fresh­man quar­ter­back at the helm and a solid run­ning game, the Mean Green can be a con­tender in Con­fer­ence USA. When Wil­son is on, they win. In the team’s first three vic­to­ries, he av­er­aged 142.7 rush­ing yards, just 44.3 in the losses.

UP NEXT

Army: Trav­els to play Wake For­est of the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence on Satur­day.

North Texas: Plays at Texas-San An­to­nio on Satur­day.

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