Let you think this was the blowout that was expected — NT came into this game 28 point favorites — it was not. North Texas was tied with Rice at 17 late in the third quarter before scoring 24-straight points to win.
DeAndre Torrey had all three of those final three touchdowns including two rushes from 14 and 12 yards out respectively, and one TD pass from five. For the game he has 130 yards on 15 carrie and three scores on the ground to go with two grabs and four yards and a score through the air.
The Mean Green struggled throughout the game, repeatedly hurting their own cause by fumbling — three in all — and allowing Mason Fine to take sack after sack. Rice totaled three sacks and four QB hurries and countless shots on Mason Fine throughout the afternoon.
For the game, North Texas averaged 8.4 yards to go on third down, emblematic of their struggles to get anything going early. After a long TD drive from Rice, NT came out and got a field goal after Fine was sacked at the Rice 16.
It looked like the rout was going to happen after all after Fine connected with Bussey Jr for 68 yards on 1st and 10 from the NT 32 — Fine rolled out and found Bussey behind the Rice secondary. He made the catch and outran the safety for six. NT added another TD the following drive after another Rice punt. DeAndre Torrey scored his first from 11-yards out as he danced passed three defenders for the score.
NT was up 17-7 and it looked like things were going to be easy. That was not the case.
North Texas struggled on the next couple of drives and then Anthony Wyche fumbled after gaining 11-yards on a pass. Rice kicked a FG after a short drive to make it 17-10. North Texas was in good position to extend the lead after halftime as they got the ball first. Rico Bussey Jr. fumbled on the kick off return, however and Rice scored to tie the game up.
North Texas went 2-6 on third downs in the third quarter, and produced just one field goal. Rice punted and put NT on their own five yard line. Instead of getting sacked — Mason Fine nearly did — NT drove for a TD. The onslaught of TDs to close things were what Mean Green fans expected and hoped for in this game, but they hid some of the poor play early.
As it is, North Texas is 7-2 entering a much-needed bye week before taking on ODU in Hampton Roads, FAU at home, and UTSA in San Antonio. North Texas has three very winnable games in the way of reaching 10 wins for the first time. NT has reached 9 wins in 2017, 2013, and 2003 in this century.