Defense Shines, Offense Struggles In Loss To Florida

North Texas defensive end Jareid Combs stops a Florida running back Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (photo by David Pyke).
Sept. 17, 2016

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - North Texas turned in its best defensive effort of the season Saturday night, a determined effort that turned back repeated scoring threats from 23rd-ranked Florida and twice stopped the Gators on downs inside the NT 10-yard line.

Unfortunately, the Mean Green offense could generate no scoring chances and precious little yardage.

With the NT offense posing no threat, the Gators simply out-lasted the Mean Green, scoring when they could and just enough for a 32-0 win at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

"I don't think we put our best foot forward on offense," North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. "The defense had an unbelievable week, and they were a week better. The offense wasn't.

"We just got to continue to grow, and we have to grow up fast," he added.

It seemed inevitable that the North Texas defense would wear down in the face of significant Florida advantages in plays run and time of possession, but the Mean Green tossed a shutout in the third quarter. It was not until the fourth quarter that Florida, given a short field again and again, tacked on a pair of late touchdowns.

The Mean Green offense was overpowered by the Florida defensive line that clogged running lanes and put intense pressure on quarterback Mason Fine. North Texas amassed just 19 total yards total and three first downs in the first half while surrendering a safety on NT's second play of the game. For the game, Florida had seven sacks and allowed the Mean Green just 53 yards total offense.

North Texas, however, stayed close on the back of its defense. Three early trips for Florida into the red zone netted just three points as the Mean Green stopped the Gators twice on downs, including a tackle by linebacker Fred Scott and Courtney Finney on fourth and goal at the Mean Green 5-yard line.

But with Florida running almost twice as many plays as North Texas, the Gators finally reached the end zone twice in the second quarter to open a 19-0 halftime lead.

North Texas' best shot at scoring came in third quarter, after Scott pressured Florida QB Luke Del Rio into throwing a pass the Mean Green defensive back Nate Brooks intercepted and returned to the Florida 33-yard line. NT, however, could not move and turned the ball over on downs.

Quick Hits

• Florida's safety in the first quarter was the first allowed by North Texas since 2009.

• The two first-half goal-line stands by North Texas were the first two such stands of the season.

• There was a near altercation late in the third quarter after Florida QB Luke Del Rio was knocked out of the game. Florida coach Jim McElwain, angered by the injury, headed onto the field towards the North Texas sideline. NT players moved out in response but cooler heads on both sides kept the potential combatants apart.

• Defensive back Nate Brooks had a team-high eight tackles in addition to his interception and a pair of pass break-ups.

• Defensive back Kishawn McClain was second in tackles with seven.

• Opponents are now 0-for-6 on fourth down attempts against the Mean Green defense following the two stops Saturday.

• Senior wide receiver Thaddeous Thompson caught three passes for 50 yards for the Mean Green.

What's Next

North Texas will play open Conference USA play against Rice in Houston on Saturday, September 24, at 5 p.m.



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