The season didn’t end the way North Texas would have liked. But then again, they weren’t expected to make it this far.
In a rematch from earlier this season, Army scored the go-ahead touchdown in overtime to beat the Mean Green 38-31 in a thriller at the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“What a fun game,” said head coach Seth Littrell. “Two really competitive teams getting out there and competing at a high level. It was physical and back and forth.”
Quarterback Alec Morris threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns in his final game in a Mean Green uniform. Running back Jeffrey Wilson had two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. Freshman wide receiver Rico Bussey, Jr also had a 27-yard touchdown catch with ten seconds left in the second quarter, the first one of his career. Seven different Mean Green receivers caught passes in the game.
“This year’s been, just like at the beginning, I don’t know how to write it,” said Morris. “After going through all these experiences, what I’ve learned, people I’ve met, I wouldn’t change it. It’s been a great experience and I mean, the only thing, I hate having it end this way.”
Army’s triple option offense was too much for the Mean Green defense to handle, rushing for 480 yards. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 129 yards and a touchdown in route to being named game MVP.
“We fought hard the entire game and we had some success,” said Mean Green defensive end Andy Flusche. “We had some big plays that got us. We weren’t quite disciplined enough, we weren’t quite physical enough, but we fought hard the entire game and gave us an opportunity.
Army appeared to have the momentum in the third quarter with a 31-21 lead before Morris connected with Tyler Wilson for an 18-yard touchdown to cut the Mean Green deficit to 31-28.
North Texas then drove down the field late in the fourth quarter, setting up Trevor Moore to tie the game with 28 second left to send it into overtime. Army got the ball in OT, where Jordan Asberry had the three-yard touchdown run that turned out to be the game winner.
“We fought hard and got back into the game and competed,” said Mean Green linebacker Fred Scott. “It’s what we’ve been coached to do all year, and that’s what we will continue to do into the future.”
Making a bowl game was the mission for the Mean Green at the start of the season, which is what they did. North Texas earned the bowl berth despite a 5-7 record based on their Academic Progress Rate. They lost five of their last six games after winning 35-18 at Army in late October.
“I think our future is very bright,” said Littrell. “I think we’ve got men that are learning what it looks like, understand what our culture is going to be moving forward, and I’m excited to get back to work.”
The Mean Green will begin the 2017 season at home against Lamar on September 2.