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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Utah State was exactly as advertised.
The Aggies, ranked No. 23 in the nation, used a balanced, up-tempo offense and a ball-hawking defense to overwhelm North Texas in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl, 52-13.
In a game that quickly turned into a shoot-out, North Texas was without its biggest weapons. Quarterback Mason Fine, UNT's all-time leading passer and two-time Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, sustained a hamstring injury in the first quarter, returned later in the first half but was left virtually immobile and was forced out of the game before halftime. The Mean Green's top receiver, Rico Bussey, Jr., was injured in the regular-season finale and was unavailable Saturday, and leading rusher DeAndre Torrey left the game with a leg injury in the third quarter.
The North Texas defense, meanwhile, held Utah State quarterback Jordan Love under his normal completion percentage, came up with a turnover against an Aggie attack that does not turn the ball over and had a sack against the best pass-protection in the nation. But Utah State hit big plays again and again, on the ground and through the air, scoring on plays of 72, 26, 37 and 67 yards in the opening half to take control.
"The reason this hurts so much is the expectations have changed at North Texas," Mean Green coach Seth Littrell said. "We expect to be in games and compete and win championships.
"We just made way too many mistakes."
North Texas finishes the year 9-4, posting back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time since 1977-78.
"I can't say enough about this group," Littrell said. "I love them. I'm proud of these seniors, and they'll be a part of my family for the rest of their lives."
The Mean Green kept pace with Utah State (11-2) through most of the first quarter. North Texas trailed 7-0 when it lost Fine to an injury suffered as he scrambled for yards. Fine, limping noticeably, returned to lead a scoring drive capped by a 2-yard DeAndre Torrey touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7, and defensive back Nate Brooks thwarted an Aggie scoring threat with his sixth interception of the year, a pick of a Love fade pass into the corner of the UNT end zone, to keep the game close.
But the Aggies relentless attack kept piling up yards. By the 12:08 mark of the second quarter, Utah State had more than 100 yards passing and rushing and built a 21-7 lead, the first time North Texas has trailed this year by more than one score.
"We came out hoping to execute the way we're supposed to," UNT senior defensive back Kemon Hall said. "But they just out-executed us."
North Texas narrowly avoided turnovers on bad shotgun snaps, the second of which aggravated Fine's injury sending him to the bench and forcing UNT to punt from its own end zone. Utah State quickly took advantage of good field position and struck again, this time on a screen pass turned into a 37-yard touchdown and a 28-7 lead.
The Aggie lead grew to 38-7 by halftime, matching the most points North Texas allowed in a game this year.
In Fine's absence, North Texas used three quarterbacks, redshirt senior Quinn Shanbour and true freshmen Jason Bean and Kason Martin. Martin had the most success, completing 7 of 12 for 110 yards and opening the second half with the fastest scoring drive in New Mexico Bowl history when he hit Jalen Guyton for a 75-yard touchdown.
It was Martin's first career TD throw, and the North Texas defense followed with stops on consecutive Utah State drives to give rise to thoughts of a comeback.
But the rally hopes didn't survive the third quarter. Torrey and Martin limped off with a leg injuries, the Aggies came up their fourth interception of the game, and Utah State grabbed another big chunk of yards on a 38-yard pass to set up a 3-yard touchdown run and a 45-13 lead.
Quick Hits
In his final game at UNT, senior linebacker E.J. Ejiya (Blaine, Minn.) had two tackles for loss, giving him 40.5 for his career, the second most in program history. Ejiya passed Brad Kassell (1998-2001). The all-time lead remains in the hands of Brandon Kennedy (2000-03) with 61.0. Ejiya also moved into the top position for single-season tackles for loss with 25, exceeding Kennedy's 2002 total of 24.0. The Mean Green were without junior wide receiver Rico Bussey, Jr., UNT's leading receiver with 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns, out with a hamstring injury suffered in the final regular-season game against UTSA. This was the first time North Texas has trailed a game at the end of the first quarter this season, and the first time the Mean Green trailed by more than one score. North Texas was the last team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to not trail by more than one score. Senior defensive back Nate Brooks (Whitehouse, Texas) stopped a Utah State scoring threat with his sixth interception of the year. That ties Brooks for eighth for most interceptions in a season all-time at North Texas. Redshirt sophomore running back Nic Smith (Arlington, Texas) had 48 yards rushing to top 1,000 for his career with 1,047. Freshman quarterback Kason Martin (Manvel, Texas) threw the first touchdown pass of his collegiate career, a 75-yard strike to Jalen Guyton. Freshman quarterback Jason Bean (Mansfield, Texas) made his collegiate debut Saturday. North Texas has lost three bowl games in a row, the second three-game bowl skid in program history. The Mean Green lost consecutive bowl games in 1948, 1959 and 2001. This is the most points North Texas allowed this season. Utah State's 556 yards total offense are the most North Texas allowed this year. This was the most points North Texas has allowed in a bowl game, surpassing the 50 surrendered a year ago to Troy in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl link:  https://meangreensports.com/news/2018/12/15/football-wounded-mean-green-fall-in-new-mexico-bowl.aspx

1).  When did you start supporting Utah State as a fan? 
My folks met at Logan HS.  I was raised on Aggie songs crossing the Nevada desert when we were kids, and tales of Aggie FB [my dad played there right after WWII, and his granddad was the first music prof at USU].
2).  Where does Utah State sit in the hierarchy of the other major Utah colleges?  Who are your main rivals in terms of bigger and smaller schools?  Who is your arch rival?
The parochial stench in Provo is our biggest rival.  The pukes in Salt Lake won't play us any more [after 100+ years of playing].
3).  Utah State and North Texas have a past both in the Big West and the Sun Belt conference.  How is Utah State's current conference affiliation working out in the Mountain West?  Do you see the Mountain West as a long term conference home or are you looking for potential realignment opportunities?
The MWC is the ideal conference with the regional rivalries.  It was a struggle in the BWC days with the WAC poaching programs.  Alas, the USU/UNT series was only a marriage of convenience.  I like where you folks ended up landing as well.
4). What region does Utah State typically recruit players from?
We recruit locally [Wyo/Ariz/Colo/Utah/Ida], as well as Pacific NW, California, Texas and Florida.  We try to keep about 40%+/- local.
5).  How is the reception of the fanbase on Gary Anderson returning as head coach?
His biannual breakdowns are concerning, but his success in raising USU back to '60s era dominance in the region was a huge, huge thing for us.  The "Raiders of the Rockies" are back!
7).  Utah State had a fantastic season, ranked in the top 25 and only losing to Boise and Michigan State.  Where does this season rank in terms of your time in following the program?
Maybe 3rd or 4th ['72, '60-62 teams were better].
8).  How would you describe the Aggie squad this season for those who have not seen them play?  They seem to have good size on the lines and talent at running back. 
The two-headed monster at RB ( Darwin Thompson - 132 carries for 951 yards and Gerold Bright - 125 carries for 785 yards) has been a pleasant surprise.  We were worried when we'd be relying on a JC (Thompson transferred from Northeastern Oklahoma) so much.  The new OL coach [poached by Tech] made all the difference.  The kids weren't much different in talent, size, etc.
9).  Please tell us more about your impressive QB Jordan Love.
He took over about 1/2 way through last season as a redshirt frosh and led the Ags to a bowl after a miserable 3-9 season the year before.  He showed up 6'2 185 and is now 6'4 225.  When he's right, I've only seen 4ish QBs better since I started watching in person in the '60s.
10).  I believe you had a special teams returner who is garnering All American status.  What can you tell us about him.
[Savon] Scarver ran one back against the NewMags in last year's bowl game and ran back two this season.  He's some kinda fast.  Good blocking this season.
11).    Is USU's offense run first than pass?  How would you describe their offensive identity.   Same for defense.
Pass to set up run [contrary to my own preference].  Defense is pressure, pressure, pressure.  Lots of guys flying around.  With all the risk taking, people occasionally pop one.  It's hard leaving those poor DBs on those islands.
12).   How does the average USU fan perceive North Texas heading into this bowl?
Most prolly don't remember the many years of conference affiliation.  The hard-core guys sure do.  And your somewhat gaudy record will catch people's attention.
13).  USU is being listed as an 8-9 point favorite in this game.  How do you see it playing out?
I have a numbers analysis I do.  I see this as a USU win by 5, 35-30.  Lots of offense by two really nice QBs.  If I were a bettor, I'd be taking UNT to cover and the over.
14).  What is your greatest USU football memory in your years of following the program or top 3?
Beating Southern Miss in 1972 on a blocked punt with no time left in a sleet storm in Logan:  Ray Guy was their punter.  We had a guy die of a heart attack right after, he got so excited.  What a way to go!
Beating Utah in Logan by about 30 in the same year, where our QB Tony Adams passed for 561, setting an NCAA record.
Beating Wisconsin at Wisconsin in 1968.

Thought our flatlander cousins would like to see a USU fan's [and one-time player's] thoughts on USU's personnel.  Offense first.  Defense if I can find time today [I'm driving down tomorrow].
Tackles are RS Frosh Alf Edwards and Senior Sean Taylor on the left and right, respectively.  They're backed up by Seniors Roman Andrus and redshirting frosh Jacob South.  Edwards is the guy to watch.  Surprisingly good footwork on the weak/blind side for a guy this long and this young.  South still has his redshirt on and has a game to give.  He's the future of the line, along with Edwards.  They are all surprisingly [for us] good at getting downfield on running plays to take out DBs.  The grand total of 5 sacks over 12 games gives the best indicator of their success taking out the rush, including the blitzes and dogs.
Guards are Roman Andrus and Senior Rob Castaneda.  They're backed up by Senior Moroni Iniguez and Frosh Wyatt Bowles.  The following applies to all of the backups:  because of the 1st stringers sitting down in nearly all games for the last quarter and a half, the backups have all gotten a lot of good minutes in real gametime.  USU pulls a lot of guards, and requires a lot of them in holding blocks, as both the principal running backs are pretty good at waiting on the blocking before they commit.  The ypc numbers are pretty gaudy as a result, with lots of breakouts by both RBs for long runs and TDs.
Center is Senior Quin Ficklin, a yBu transfer who was a TE.  He hit the gym and developed into a very highly regarded center.  Calls a nice game.  Check out Hans Olsen's [Merlin's nephew] youtube vids breaking down USU's team, especially the line, in game situations.  He's backed up by Demo Ali'ifua.
It starts with Dax Raymond, a RS Junior who's announced he's leaving school for the draft next Spring.  He is perhaps the best blocker on the team, is really quick, with really sticky hands, and he's a load to bring down.  He's backed up by Soph Terrell Carson, who's just as rangy, not quite as stout, but a pretty good blocker, and good hands.  He lacks the breakaway speed of Raymond.
It starts with the guys on the outside, Seniors Ron Tarver and Jalen Green, who bring in 10.90 and 14.16 ypc, with 7 and 5 TDs.  Green's more a possession guy, with Tarver being the guy who wins jump balls on the sideline and in the endzone.  In the slot is a three-headed-monster with Seniors Aaren Vaughns, DJ Nelson, and Soph Jordan Nathan, who bring in 15.23, 9.33, and 10.96 ypc, with 3, 0, and 3 TDs.  Both DJ and Vaughns pass a little [DJ was an all-everything HS QB, who also holds for kicks].  Nathan runs back punts, quite successfully.  Backups on the outside are Soph Savion Scarver and Taylor Compton and Frosh Deven Thompkins, who bring in 18.38, 7.25, and 7.22 ypc, with 2, 0, and 0 TDs.  Scarver is the KO return guy.
USU has a two-headed monster at RB who rarely are in the game together:  Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright.  Thompson is not quite as fast as Bright.  Bright is not as stout as Thompson. They bring in 7.2 and 6.3 ypc, with 14 and 8 TDs.  Each is pretty good out of the backfield, 15.27 and 11.16 ypc, with 2 and 3 TDs.  Both are in the 5'8-5'9 200 lb range.  Thompson is a gym rat with astonishing measurables.
6'4 225 Soph Jordan Love has been quite a find.  He's backed up by RS Frosh Henry Colombi.  They rush for 1.5 and 8.3 ypc, with 6 and 1 TDs.  They pass for 8.58 and 5.98 ypp, with 28 and 0 TDs, with 5 and 0 INTs, and suffering 5 and 0 sacks.
Only two teams have been able to defend USU consistently:  Wyoming and Colorado State, both road games.  Boise did a fair job on defense, enough to keep ahead of USU by 2 points in Boise until the last 5 seconds of the game.  But if you want to know how to defend USU, take a look at what our Front Range cousins did.


How Did We Get Here?

By Harry, in GoMeanGreen.com ,

DENTON – There is only one team in the Football Bowl Subdivision that has not trailed by more than one score in 2018, and it's not anyone playing in the College Football Playoff. It's the North Texas Mean Green.
Three short years ago, the outlook was not so rosy. North Texas saw itself trailing by multiple scores routinely during 1-11 season that saw a coach relieved of his duties midway through the year.
Members of the senior class have seen quite a bit in their time in Denton. Quarterback Quinn Shanbour, who is finishing his sixth season on campus, has a unique view of the changes at UNT. In his first season, the Mean Green win nine games and the Heart of Dallas Bowl; in his third, UNT went 1-11; now, he's been part of two straight nine-win seasons.
"I was very lucky to be a part of the 2013 season and obviously the 2018 season, and it feels like two mountain peaks and a real deep valley in between," Shanbour said. "Going out on a high is really big for me."
That valley was a major low point for a program in desperate need of a reset. Enter Seth Littrell. The former North Carolina offensive coordinator brought his high-flying Air Raid attack to Denton and made significant changes across the board to lift the program out of the doldrums.
The 2015 campaign was tough on everyone. Fans, coaches, administration, but, most of all, the student-athletes. Perspective, however, helped them climb out of it.
"I don't really look at 2015 as a tough year as much as it was a lesson," defensive lineman Ulaiasi Tauaalo said. "We came back the following spring and the biggest thing was that everyone bought in (with coach Littrell) quickly. Throughout the years there have been a lot of highs and lows, but everything has happened for a reason."
Littrell instilled a set of core values, and he and his staff transformed the culture. When Littrell told the room of 100-plus players on report day that their goal in 2016 was to win a bowl game that year, no one batted an eye, despite the fact that those outside that room would meet that statement understandably, with a whole lot of skepticism.
Littrell created a family-oriented environment. He made sure it was a true level playing field upon his arrival, and gave everyone the opportunity to compete for jobs and roles within the team. Shanbour, a walk-on when Littrell arrived in Denton, impressed his new head coach with his work ethic and attitude, becoming the first player that earned a scholarship under Littrell's guidance, which is a source of pride for the Oklahoma City native.
After a 5-7 regular season, the Mean Green earned a berth in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl thanks to a strong Academic Performance Rate.
"You can attribute a lot of the success to the change in culture," cornerback Nate Brooks said. "Before this coaching staff got here, the culture was just bad. There was no other way to describe it. It was a lot of players just doing what they wanted and not buying into the team and playing for themselves. Once this staff got in and changed the culture, it changed our team's mindset. Them changing the culture is a large part of how successful we've been."
The culture is built on family and accountability, and it started to take shape in 2016 and continued to grow as 2017 approached.
North Texas saw a massive jump in 2017, improving on its win total by four games, thanks in part to a breakout performance by quarterback Mason Fine and the offense that scored 35.5 points per game. Close wins were a calling card, as five of those nine wins were decided by one possession or less.
There were a lot of times, however, where the team found itself trailing. It was really good at climbing out of holes, but found themselves in that situation far too often.
But 2018 felt different. Expectations were sky high heading into the season and the Mean Green answered the bell early, opening at 4-0 with a landmark win at Arkansas. The standard was raised. That meant fan and media expectations were high as well, so when some losses came, so too did the criticism.
"We felt like the better team at all times this year," Shanbour said. "Thinking about never trailing by more than a possession, it means we are always in the game, which gives us a great chance every week. Unfortunately in the losses the opponents got that last drive on us."
It shows just how far the program has come in three short years that some were disappointed with a 9-3 season. Now, with an opportunity for a 10th win staring the Mean Green in the face, this group sees the chance to leave its legacy.
"The biggest thing is that the foundation is set now," Tauaalo said. "This is normal now. Knowing when we step out there that we're the better team, we know we built that from our workouts, from our summers, to spring, how everyone does the little things. Accountability for something small makes a big difference. Everyone takes care of business in a professional way like it should be.
"My biggest takeaway from my time here is that I can leave here knowing that the foundation is set. That will keep me at peace. I'm walking away knowing that there's great things ahead for the program, and I'm just glad to be a part of the journey of what is next for this program."
Heading into this week's New Mexico Bowl against a very talented Utah State team, there is a lot at stake for North Texas. It can win 10 for the third time in 103 years of North Texas football, it can knock off a ranked opponent for the second time ever and first time in 44 years, and it can accomplish the mission set forth by Littrell in that meeting in August of 2016.
What would winning Saturday's New Mexico be like?
"That'll be my Super Bowl for right now," Brooks said. "It will probably be one of the greatest moments of my life up to this point."
Link:  https://meangreensports.com/news/2018/12/12/football-how-did-we-get-here.aspx

DENTON - North Texas has accepted an invitation to play in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15 at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque against Mountain West foe Utah State.
“Conference USA has had a great relationship with the New Mexico Bowl and we are honored to be representing the league, the entire UNT community and the North Texas region in a postseason bowl game,” North Texas Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics and Director of Athletics Wren Baker said. “Coach Littrell, this coaching staff and these student-athletes have raised the level of expectations for this program.  Playing in our third consecutive bowl game is something everyone associated with this university should take pride in.”   

The Mean Green continue their streak of consecutive bowl appearances under head coach Seth Littrell, posting a 9-3 regular season record. Littrell guided UNT to its second-ever back-to-back seasons with nine wins (1977-78) and the Mean Green have an opportunity to win 10 games for the third time in program history.

This will be the 11th bowl game in North Texas history and third straight after playing in the 2017 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the 2016 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. It will be the eighth bowl game for UNT in the last 18 years, and this is the Mean Green’s first trip to the New Mexico Bowl.
“We are excited to be playing in the New Mexico Bowl against a very good opponent in Utah State,” Head Coach Seth Littrell Said. “Albuquerque is an easy travel destination for our fans and alumni and I know this team is excited to play in front of a national audience on ESPN in the very first bowl game of the season. It will be a tremendous challenge but we are excited to get to work.”

North Texas was the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to never trail by more than one possession in 2018. The Mean Green had another banner year from their quarterback, junior Mason Fine, who has thrown for 3,734 yards with 27 touchdowns to only five interceptions, while also adding two more scores on the ground. The defense took a major step forward in 2018 for North Texas, as it improved its points-per-game allowance by 13.2 ppg and ranked fifth in the country in interceptions with 17. Offensively, The Mean Green are on pace to set a program record in points-per-game, at 36.4. The current record is 36.2, set in 1951. UNT also ranks within the top-25 nationally in 20 major team statistical categories heading into its bowl game.

This marks the first time since 2002-2004 that North Texas will play in a bowl game in three consecutive seasons. In those years, North Texas concluded the four-year run in the New Orleans Bowl after winning four consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships.

North Texas and Utah State have met seven times, with the Aggies holding a 4-3 edge. The last meeting was in 2004, when the Mean Green knocked off Utah State 31-23 in Logan, Utah. The Aggies finished the 2018 regular season with a 10-2 record and a 7-1 mark in Mountain West play. Following head coach Matt Wells’ departure to Texas Tech last week, the Aggies have tabbed Frank Maile as their interim head coach for the bowl.

Bowl tickets are now on sale. For ticket prices and to purchase tickets online from the North Texas Ticket Office, visit MeanGreenPostseason.com.

SAN ANTONIO - Mean Green senior linebacker E.J. Ejiya's 9-yard sack with five seconds to play shoved UTSA back to the edge of field-goal range, and an ensuing 48-yard attempt on the last play of the game drifted wide left as North Texas earned its first win in the Alamodome, 24-21.
North Texas led by 17 in the first half, then fought off repeated Roadrunner rallies in Saturday's regular-season finale. Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, running back DeAndre Torrey rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown, wide receiver Jalen Guyton had a team-high five catches for 78 yards, and the North Texas defense made some critical stops, led by Kemon Hall's fifth interception of the year and Ejiya's two sacks, four tackles for loss and team-best 11 tackles.
The Mean Green finish the regular season 9-3, reaching nine victories in back-to-back years for the second time in program history. North Texas is 5-3 in Conference USA play. The Mean Green will learn their bowl destination on Sunday, Dec. 2.
"It was a hard battle," North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. "It was a dogfight, on the road at this place where we'd never won. I give our guys a lot of credit.
"You look across in country in these rivalry games, they're always battles," he added. "We ended up making enough plays to win."
The UTSA (3-9. 2-6), which has averaged just six points per contest over its last five games, built some momentum by converting some third downs on its opening possessions. But the first of those marches ended in the arms of Mean Green defensive back Hall, who intercepted a Roadrunner pass in the end zone for his fifth pick of the season, and another drive was stopped by a pass break-up by Jameel Moore.
North Texas, meanwhile, scored on its first three possessions, and its receivers consistently got open in the UTSA secondary. Fine threw for 201 yards in the first half and connected on 49- and 3-yard touchdown passes to Michael Lawrence and Kelvin Smith, respectively. Cole Hedlund mixed in a 20-yard field goal and the Mean Green built a 17-0 lead.
But North Texas has demonstrated the fleeting nature of its big leads throughout conference play, and Saturday was no different as the Roadrunners stormed back in the final 10 minutes of the second period. They scored their second touchdown in their last 14 quarters to shave the lead to 17-7, stopped a Mean Green drive with an interception in the end zone, then blocked a North Texas punt to set up a 3-yard scoring run by QB Bryce Rivers on the final play of the half to pull within 17-14.
Ejiya revived the Mean Green momentum in the second half with an 11-yard sack of Rivers to give the ball back to the Mean Green offense, and Fine and company responded with a 74-yard drive, on which Torrey topped the century mark for the fourth game in a row and scored his 17th touchdown of the year on a 3-yard run.
"He's running physically and explosively," Littrell said. "I'm proud of him for stepping up and playing at a high level."
Again, however, UTSA fought back. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Roadrunners drove 92 yards for a touchdown, starting with a 42-yard pass to midfield and rolling to the end zone from there.
North Texas got the ball back with 8:01 to play and began a clock-eating drive, converting two third downs, the second when Fine scrambled away from pressure and hit Keegan Brewer for 18 yards. But UTSA stopped the Mean Green on a fourth-and-1 at the Roadrunner 32-yard line with 2:28 to play to set up a final opportunity for the lead or a tie.
UTSA quickly reached the North Texas 35-yard line, when Garner threw Rivers for an 8-yard loss on third down. Facing fourth and 16, Rivers connected for 25 yards to the Mean Green 17-yard line with 30 seconds left. After an incompletion at the goal line, UTSA was penalized for delay of game with 11 seconds left, then Ejiya crashed through to sack Rivers for a 9-yard loss and push the Roadrunners back to the UNT 31 with five seconds remaining.
"Those guys did a great job," Littrell said of his defense. "They knew they had to make plays to push them out of field-goal range, and they came up big for us."
UTSA's field goal attempt from 48 yards on the final play of the game had the distance but was wide left.
Quick Hits
This is the eighth time in program history the Mean Green have won nine or more games in a season, and the second time to do so in back-to-back seasons. North Texas went 10-1 in 1977 and 9-2 in 1978 under coach Hayden Fry. North Texas has posted consecutive winning seasons in league play for the first time since joining C-USA, and first back-to-back winning conference record since 2003-04. This was the Mean Green's first win at the Alamodome in its third trip to San Antonio. Junior quarterback Mason Fine (Peggs, Okla.), who became North Texas' all-time leading passer this season, is ascending the ranks of college football's all-time career passing leaders. Following Saturday's regular-season finale, Fine has 9,358 career passing yards and climbed to No. 161 on list. Among those he passed this week: 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow (Florida), All-Pro QB Matt Ryan (Boston College), and Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer John Elway (Stanford). Fine owns the top two seasons in school history in terms of touchdown passes. He threw two TDs Saturday, giving him 27 this year and surpassing Mitch Maher (1994) for second place. The only better tally is Fine's 31 TDs last year. Fine has thrown a touchdown pass in his last 23 games. Kicker Cole Hedlund (Argyle, Texas) is making his lone season with the Mean Green count. The graduate senior, a transfer from Arkansas, has 19 field goals this year, tying Keith Chapman (1989) for the second most in a season at North Texas. Hedlund also has 50 points after touchdown, surpassing Zach Paul's 2013 campaign for the second most in a season and the eighth most in a career at North Texas. In his debut season, sophomore running back DeAndre Torrey (Gautier, Miss.) is joining elite company. The transfer from Gulf Coast Junior College didn't become a starter until week 6, but has amassed 17 touchdowns (rushing, receiving and returns), tying Jamario Thomas (2018) for third-best single-season total in school history. Torrey has 14 rushing TDs this season, tying Jeffery Wilson (2016) for fifth most in UNT history. With 155 yards rushing Saturday, Torrey has four consecutive games rushing for 100 yards or more, the seventh longest such streak in school history. Torrey and place kicker Cole Hedlund are climbing the UNT record book in points in a single season. Hedlund has 107, fourth most in season at UNT, and Torrey has 102, tying Jamario Thomas (2004) for fifth most. Senior linebacker Brandon Garner (Mansfield, Texas) has 17.0 tackles for loss this year, tying Jeremiah Chapman (2007), Brad Kassell (1999) and Brandon Kennedy (2003) on UNT's all-time single-season list. With 27 yards Saturday, junior wide receiver Rico Bussey, Jr., (Lawton, Okla.) has 1,017 receiving yards this year, the seventh 1,000-yard receiving season in school history. His total is the sixth best in school history, moving him ahead of David Brown (1994) with 1,013 yards and John Love (1965) with 994 yards. Bussey left Saturday's game in the first half with a leg injury. Redshirt senior linebacker E.J. Ejiya (Blaine, Minn.) registered two sacks, giving him 16.0 sacks for his career, eighth most in program history and moving him past Brandon McCoy (2010-13), Aaron Bellazin (2010-13) and Jeremiah Chapman (2004-07). Ejiya has 9.0 sacks this year, tying Brandon Kennedy (2002) and Brad Spinks (1996) for sixth most in a single season. Senior defensive back Kemon Hall (Calhoun City, Miss.) had his fifth interception of the season on UTSA's opening drive of the game. The pick, on a Roadrunners pass into the end zone, was the sixth of Hall's career. Junior wide receiver Michael Lawrence (Sweetwater, Texas) hauled in a 49-yard scoring toss on the Mean Green's opening possession, his second TD of the season. Redshirt junior tight end Kelvin Smith had his first touchdown reception of the year and third of his career on a 3-yard pass in the second quarter. Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinetin Jackson (Granite City, Ill.) had his second reception of the season Saturday. The 14-yard catch is his longest of 2018. North Texas has set school records for most points per game (36.4), most yards total offense per game (472.8), and most passing yards per game (316.3). The Mean Green's 27 passing touchdowns this season are the second most in school history.

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