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Saturday, May 21, 2022

North Texas edges out Middle Tennessee in close one at home

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The Mean Green (3-4, 2-1 Conference-USA) defeated the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (2-5, 1-2 Conference-USA) in the final seconds by a score of 33-30 in a a game which Mason Fine threw for 375 yards, a touchdown and only two incompletions.

After the North Texas timeout, ten seconds remained on the clock in a 30-30 tie ball game. Senior quarterback Mason Fine glanced down the field and found junior wideout Jaelon Darden for a 28-yard completion. Darden hauled in his 13th catch on the day leaving four seconds on the clock, enough time for sophomore kicker Ethan Mooney to make the field goal for the win.

“It was such a team win,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “You’re not going to score on every drive. They have great players, as well. If you try to play perfect it’s tough sledding. All three sides have to step up together. If one sides not in a rhythm, another side has to keep it rolling. We played off of each other tonight.”

The quarterback dual in this matchup was one to watch with Fine going 33-45 for 375 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Asher O’Hara utilized his dual-threat abilities and recorded 136 passing yards on the day along with 82 rushing yards and one score on the ground.

Darden led the way for the Mean Green and set a new personal reception record with 13 catches good for 125 yards and a score. Senior running back Loren Easly led the ground game for the Mean Green with 99 yards on 19 attempts, both new season highs.

“It was big for me knowing where defenders were going to be,” Darden said. “I needed to be in my alignment and my assignment and I’m just trying to help the team win.”

Fine rushed for a three-yard touchdown in the first quarter to kick off the scoring for both teams however, the Blue Raiders followed that up with a rushing touchdown from O’Hara in the second quarter to take the lead. The Mean Green blocked a punt from the Blue Raiders in the second quarter, Dominique Harrison returned it for a touchdown to put North Texas ahead 17-13 at the half.

At the beginning of the second half, the game began to slow down and both defenses showed their ability to hold each other, however North Texas put in two field goals in the quarter.

North Texas drove down and scored on a 16-yard touchdown from Darden putting them back up halfway through the fourth quarter. The Blue Raiders responded again knotting the game up at 30, however North Texas would go on to drive 37 yards in 28 seconds on four plays to kick the field goal and put the game away after a 50-yard kick return from redshirt junior wideout Deion Hair-Griffin.

“I told my guys they gave us too long,” Fine said. “I knew we could go down and score. We got help with special teams with Deion putting us in a good position. It was a great team win on all three sides of the ball. We’ve had so much adversity, even in that game, to be able to overcome it and come together as a family and win was so big.”

UP NEXT: North Texas will travel on the road to take on Charlotte at 2:30 PM on Saturday.

Featured Image: Junior wide receiver Jaelon Darden scores a touchdown against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Oct. 19, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard

Article Originally Published by Joshua Paveglio on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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