What a strange season it’s been.
When putting together the 2018 football season, this match-up was a no-brainer. After a literal last-minute drive a year ago gave North Texas their second-ever victory over the Roadrunners, putting this in-state rivalry at the end of the season seemed like the way to go.
And then the season happened. Granted, it may not have gone the way UTSA fans would have hoped, but even as a 3-8 team coming into this game, the Roadrunners gave the Mean Green all they could handle.
The Mean Green did what they usually do, putting up big numbers, starting with a touchdown pass on their second play of the game. Up in the second quarter 17-7, a few defensive stumbles gave the Roadrunners the ball back late, and it was 17-14 at halftime.
UTSA never let up. They had the lone score in the 3rd quarter, taking the lead at 21-17, and indeed Bryce Rivers had an outstanding day, finishing 20 of 32 passing with 269 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Also giving UNT fits was RB Brenden Brady, who rushed for 89 yards on 11 carries, or 8.1 yards a run, and a touchdown.
All this turned out to almost be enough. Mason Fine did what Mason Fine’s gonna do, adding 320 passing yards and two touchdowns (and one interception) to his already school-record yardage total. DeAndre Torrey has finally come into his own, exploding for 155 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Eleven different North Texas receivers had catches, led by Jalen Guyton with five receptions for 78 yards, as Kelvin Smith and Michael Lawrence each caught a touchdown pass.
In spite of all this, UTSA threatened late, stopping North Texas on 4th and 1 where a first down would have sealed the game. Rivers marched the Roadrunners down the field, but was sacked twice inside field goal range, forcing a 48-yard field goal attempt at 3rd and 19 with 0:05 to go.
Sadly for the Roadrunners, the kick went wide left, and the Roadrunners seniors saw this one slip away, their team finishing 3-9 (2-6) to finish Frank Wilson’s third year at the helm.
North Texas, meanwhile, rises to 9-3 (5-3) and will await to learn its bowl destination in the coming weeks. This will be UNT’s third season in a row to go bowling, their first such streak since their 2001-2004 run as champions of the Sun Belt. Their nine wins is amongst the best in program history, and a bowl win would put them at 10 wins for the first time since 1977.
This was a tremendous performance from both teams, and a taste of what we already have circled on our calendars for 2019.
Now all this rivalry needs is a trophy.