Article Originally Published by Matthew Suarez on North Texas Daily
Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily
North Texas football (1-0) secured the win in their season opener against the Abilene Christian Wildcats(0-1) with a final score of 51-31. This marks the third consecutive time the Mean Green have won their season opener.
“Abilene Christian is very well-coached, they have a lot of grit and determination,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I love the way we came out on all three phases. I was really proud [of] the start we had with our team. So,we need to continue to do that and grow and get better every week.”
North Texas scored on its opening play from scrimmage after redshirt junior Deion Hair-Griffin returned the first-half kickoff to the Abilene Christian 32-yard line. Senior quarterback Mason Fine connected with junior tight end Jason Pirtle for the opening score.
Within two minutes, Pirtle caught another touchdown from Fine, earning the first touchdown of his career. He wasn’t slated to play until starter Kelvin Smith went down with an injury.
“We were prepared for this, you just come out and do your job,” Pirtle said. “Obviously, the first play being a touchdown kind of got my nerves down. The rest of the game felt more normal and easier.”
The dynamic between Fine and Pirtle began in high school as they are both products of Locust Grove high school.
“It was a great feeling to kind of see that Locust Grove connection again,” Fine said.
North Texas concluded the first quarter with a 29-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Ethan Mooney, going up 17-0.
The Mean Green scored two more times to open up the second quarter. Fine fired two more touchdown passes, with the first going for 49 yards to senior wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. and the second for 12 yards to Pirtle.
The score was 31-0 before Abilene Christian scored off senior running back Tracy James’19-yard scamper into the end zone. Following the play, redshirt junior Deion Hair-Griffenreturned the Wildcats kickoff for a 96-yard touchdown, extending North Texas’ lead to 38-7.
North Texas ended the half with a score of 38-10 after Abilene Christian’s sophomore kicker Blair Zepeda managed a 43-yard field goal.
Mooney kicked off the scoring in the second half. Senior running back Billy McCrary recorded the next score for the Wildcats and redshirt senior running back Loren Easly put the Mean Green up 48-17.
Three more scoring plays were made to finish out the fourth quarter. The first was James’ 5-yard rushing touchdown, followed by Mooney’s 29-yard field goal. The final score of the game was made by Wildcat’s junior quarterback Luke Anthony after he hit senior wideout Josh Fink for a 64-yard touchdown pass.
“I feel like we could have played better,” graduate student defensive back Nick Harvey said. “Teams are going to have times where they get points and huge yardage, but I feel like we kept fighting.”
Harvey led the team in tackles (14) and solo tackles (11) in his first appearance on the Mean Green.
UP NEXT: North Texas travels to Dallas to take on their rival Southern Methodist Mustangs on Sept. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Featured Image: The Mean Green run onto the field before the game against Abilene Christian at Apogee Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard
Source: North Texas Daily