North Texas takes a 28-0 lead – then loses to Old Do­min­ion

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Sports - BY WIL­LIAM WILK­ER­SON wwilk­er­son@star-tele­gram.com

North Texas blew a 28-point first half lead to an Old Do­min­ion team that had only won two games prior to Satur­day, as the Mon­archs outscored the Mean Green 28-3 in the sec­ond half to eek out a 34-31 vic­tory in Nor­folk, Va., on Satur­day.

Ma­son Fine com­pleted 26-of-44 passes for 240 yards and two touch­downs in the loss, which dropped UNT to 7-3 over­all and 3-3 in Con­fer­ence USA.

Old Do­min­ion capped a 14-play, 71-yard drive with a 1-yard touch­down run from Lala Davis with 15 sec­onds left to give ODU the lead. The Mon­archs kept that drive alive with a 36-yard re­cep­tion on a 4th-and-6 from the UNT 40 with 3:22 left.

North Texas’ de­fense got things go­ing on Old Do­min­ion’s first pos­ses­sion when, on the third play from scrim­mage, Ke­mon Hall in­ter­cepted a pass from Blake LaRussa at the UNT 44.

The Mean Green then pro­ceeded to go 56 yards in nine plays over the next 2:59 to take a 7-0 lead when Rico Bussey Jr. hauled in a 23-yard touch­down pass from Fine. Bussey Jr., the ju­nior from Lawton, Okla., came into the game with 55 re­cep­tions for 822 yards and 10 touch­downs this sea­son.

That drive was kept alive when De­An­dre Tor­rey gained five yards on a 4th-and-1 from the ODU 42.

Tor­rey would find the end­zone from 37 yards out on UNT’s next drive.

Hall came up big a few drives later when he broke up a LaRussa pass on 4th-and-7 from the UNT 46 early in the sec­ond quar­ter. Tor­rey then found the end­zone from 7-ayrds out seven plays later to give the Mean Green a com­mand­ing 21-0 lead with 10:44 left in the first half.

On the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, Old Do­min­ion, sens­ing a bit of des­per­a­tion, went for it again on fourth down from the UNT 46 and, again, were un­able to pick up a first down.

North Texas then cap­i­tal­ized on an ODU rough­ing the kicker call on a punt at­tempt when Fine found Bussey Jr. for a 26-yard TD to make it 28-0 with 3:48 left in the half.

That’s when things re­ally changed.

Fine threw an in­ter­cep­tion and ODU scored the next 10 points be­fore half­time.

Tor­rey coughed up the ball at the ODU 32 at the start of the fourth quar­ter with UNT up 31-24. The Mon­archs con­verted that fum­ble into a field goal and held pat on de­fense un­til the late touch­down.

North Texas will look to get back on track when it hosts Florida At­lantic on Nov. 15 at 8:30 p.m. The game will be tele­vised on the CBS Sports Net­work. The Mean Green will then close the reg­u­lar sea­son in San An­to­nio on Nov. 24 against UTSA be­fore fig­ur­ing out where they’ll go bowl­ing.

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