After trading offensive haymakers in the first half, North Texas football (2-4, 1-1 Conference USA) could not hang in the game with senior quarterback Mason Fine going down early in the fourth quarter. Southern Mississippi (4-2, 2-0 Conference USA) pulled away with the win by a final score of 45-27.
“I don’t know the exact timing [of when the game started getting away from North Texas],” head coach Seth Littrell said. “We did good things early on. We started faster offensively, but we have to get stops defensively and clean some things up over there. When someone goes down, the next guy has to step up. We just have to do better as a team. We have to get stops and we have to score. We just have to get better. It’s disappointing, but at the same time we have to look ourselves in the mirror and get back and get better.”
Southern Miss came out of the gates hot as the Golden Eagles scored first with a 59-yard bomb from junior quarterback Jack Abraham to senior wideout De’Michael Harris. The Mean Green responded with Fine connecting with freshman wideout Jyaire Shorter for 45 yards.
The long yardage scoring plays continued throughout the first half as the Mean Green gave up a 60-yard touchdown run to Harris. Darden was able to respond and keep the game close after hauling in a 53-yard pass from Fine. Darden scored before the half in concert with Abraham who scored two more touchdowns — one through the air and the other with his legs — giving the Golden Eagles the 28-20 lead at the half.
Abraham led Southern Mississippi in the third quarter to tag on 10 more points after escaping the red zone with a 14-yard touchdown pass and a 35-yard field goal.
Fine was brought down hard in the fourth quarter and was taken off the field due to a left shoulder injury. Freshman quarterback Jason Bean came in for the remainder of the game and managed to go 3-for-6 and passing for 36 yards, an interception and a touchdown to junior wideout Jaelon Darden.
“I thought [Bean] stepped in with some confidence,” Littrell said. “He can make plays. He just hasn’t had a ton of reps. The more reps he gets, the better he’ll get. He’s improved in practice. I know he can step up and make plays when need be.”
UP NEXT: North Texas heads back to Denton to host their third conference opponent of the season in Middle Tennessee (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) next Saturday, Oct. 19 at 3:00 p.m. CT.
Featured Image: Senior quarterback Mason Fine calls out to his teammates before the snap at the game against Southern Methodist at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard