North Texas is back.
After losing 66-7 to FCS Portland State last year, North Texas showed their new roster and coaching staff are no pushovers, beating FCS Bethune-Cookman 41-20 in front of the hometown Denton crowd.
While transfer QB Alec Morris was the standout last week, this week it was all freshman Mason Fine, who threw for 108 yards, going 11 of 22 on the day.
In our preview for this game, we pointed out that North Texas didn’t have much going on the ground, save for Jeffrey Wilson, and we’re pleased to say they proved us wrong. Wilson was outstanding, make no mistake, rushing 14 times for 83 yards and two touchdowns, but this time he was joined by junior Willy Ivery, who ran for 103 yards and a touchdown of his own, after a shaky first game in week one.
In the air, UNT didn’t have one standout star, as nine different receivers caught passes on the day, a stingy result from a head coach known for offense. Freshman Tyler Wilson returned two kicks for 80 yards, including a huge 66 yard return midway through the 3rd quarter.
Bethune-Cookman was not without their highlights, as they were a top team in the MEAC last year, and 2016 has shown that the size of the program does not always match the fight of the program.
And fight the Wildcats did, playing their first game of the season after their week one game was cancelled due to weather. They started the day breaking in new QB Larry Brihm Jr, who was stifled all day by a tough North Texas defense, finishing with 8 completions and 74 yards. He also ran 14 times for another 27, eclipsing every other Wildcat rusher in terms of attempts, though Frank Brown did return a punt for 88 yards early in the game, and Akevious Williams rushed for an 83 yard TD late, in some of the only bright spots for B-C on the day.
After last years embarrassing loss changed the entire national perception of the program, North Texas has shown it has at least begun to right the wrongs of the past decade. Today’s win is a glimmer of hope in the early weeks of the season, as North Texas travels to play at Florida next week.
To get to their first bowl game since 2014, UNT still has a long way to go. But first they had to get back to respectability, and if this week didn’t do it, then it’s time to start looking ahead to Rice in Week 4.