North Texas was down 17-0, had managed -17 yards of total offense up to that point, and took the field at its own 25.
First the video then we look at it
The drive did not start pretty. Ivery tried to bounce the ball outside and lost a yard, then Mason Fine nearly threw an interception. Then he threw into double coverage to O’Keeron Rutherford.
Then a strange thing happened: The football gods made the Rice DBs run into each other and Rutherford caught the pass at the Rice 44. New life pumped into the NT veins. Sometimes you just have to be lucky.
Fine tried to find MGN fave Kenny Buyers deep, but overthrew him. I liked the aggression. Then Ivery found the edge he was seeking all night, turned it up, and grabbed 15 yards.
The pre-snap motion was important, as NT has been running toward the H-back doing split zone, outside zone, and inside zone to that side. Here, they went away from their tendency and that might have gotten Rice off their keys. It also helped that there were some key blocks that left Ivery 1-v-1 with a LB. He won that here.
A dump off pass lost a couple of yards and things did not look so good. Willie Robinson dropped a pass that was a tad too high for him to comfortably grab. It skipped through his hands. 3rd and 12. What was promising now looked dire. It was a very similar position NT found itself in vs Florida in the second half: Make a few plays then fizzle out.
Then Mason Fine sees green grass in front of him.
Look at this.
While it looks easy, it was not. The Rice Safety met Fine about a yard from the line of scrimmage after reacting a tad late to the run. Fine evaded the ankle tackle attempt, and rumbled down to the 16. Then, Mason made that beauty of a toss to Willy Ivery who made an even better catch. Touchdown North Texas. Season saved. At least, up to that point.
Here is the play
Here is that catch
NORTH TEXAS drive start at 13:02.
1-10 NT25 IVERY, Willy rush for loss of 1 yard to the NT24 (WHITE, Destri).
2-11 NT24 FINE, Mason pass incomplete to THOMPSON, T. (IBE, JT).
3-11 NT24 FINE, Mason pass complete to RUTHERFORD, O. for 32 yards to the RICE44, 1ST DOWN NT (WHITE, Destri).P
1-10 RICE44 FINE, Mason pass incomplete to BUYERS, Kenny.
2-10 RICE44 IVERY, Willy rush for 15 yards to the RICE29, 1ST DOWN NT (BANKS, VJ).R
1-10 RICE29 FINE, Mason pass complete to IVERY, Willy for loss of 2 yards to the RICE31 (MCGASKEY, T.).
2-12 RICE31 FINE, Mason pass incomplete to ROBINSON, W..
3-12 RICE31 FINE, Mason rush for 15 yards to the RICE16, 1ST DOWN NT (WHITE, Destri).R
1-10 RICE16 FINE, Mason pass complete to IVERY, Willy for 16 yards to the RICE0, 1ST DOWN NT, TOUCHDOWN, clock 10:28.P
1-0 RICE03 MOORE, Trevor kick attempt good.