After never trailing by more than two possessions the entire season, that’s the position North Texas spent most of its time Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Mean Green failed to reach 10 wins on the season and fell to 0-3 in bowl games during the Seth Littrell era with a 52-13 loss to Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
The Aggies scored on a 72-yard pass from Jordan Love to Aaren Vaughns on the third play of the game, taking control of the game early. UNT eventually answered, but not without consequences coming from its scoring drive.
Quarterback Mason Fine injured his left hamstring on a scramble during UNT’s third possession of the game. Fine finished the drive, which ended with a 2-yard touchdown run from DeAndre Torrey that tied the score, 7-7.
Fine was in and out of the game during the first half until re-injuring his hamstring trying to recover a bad snap late in the second quarter, ultimately ending his day. He concluded the game going 8 of 12 for 59 yards, finishing the season shy of 4,000 passing yards for the second straight campaign.
Redshirt-senior Quinn Shanbour never found a groove after replacing Fine, throwing three interceptions in the game, prompting freshman Jason Bean to make his collegiate debut in the second quarter.
Trailing 38-7 when the second half kicked off, Kason Martin started the half at quarterback for UNT, becoming the Mean Green’s fourth player under center in the game. Martin’s first pass was a 75-yard touchdown to Jalen Guyton, giving UNT its last points of the day.
Martin battled a knee injury throughout most of the game but still recorded 111 yards and the score on 7 of 12 passing.
Injuries played a major role in the game for UNT, even outside of the quarterback position. The Mean Green started the game without leading receiver Rico Bussey Jr., who didn’t suit up because of an injured hamstring. Cornerback Nate Brooks, who had an interception in the game, also battled injuries, needing medical attention several times during the game. Several other defensive players needed medical attention, as well, during the contest for UNT.
The Mean Green finished the season 9-4 after the loss, as USU improved to 11-2 despite playing its first game without coach Matt Wells, who left the program to become the head coach at Texas Tech.