Mean Green Overwhelmed By Southern Miss, 49-14
Wilson's 136-Yard Rushing Night Not Enough To Keep Pace With Golden Eagles
HATTIESBURG, MS - Four weeks into the 2015 season, North Texas continues its search for consistency.
The return of running back Jeffrey Wilson paid big dividends Saturday night against Southern Miss, but even with his career-best rushing performance, the Mean Green offense continued to be sporadic and mistake prone, and couldn't match a Golden Eagles' attack that steadily built momentum on its way to a 49-14 win over the Mean Green at Roberts Stadium.
This is the first time North Texas has started the season 0-4 since 2008, and is the Mean Green's fifth loss in a row dating back to last year. Southern Miss improved to 3-2.
With sophomore Wilson back from injury and in the starting lineup for the first time this season, North Texas generated offense on the ground, rushing for 97 yards by halftime, with Wilson accounting for 77. Wilson finished with 136 yards, the second 100-plus-yard game of his career and the most yards rushing for North Texas since Brandon Byrd had 251 against Tulsa in 2013.
"Jeffrey is a heck of a football player," North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. "He's everything you want in a running back. But it's not enough. W've got to get him some help and cut down on mistakes."
The Mean Green faltered through the air, hamstrung by a Southern Miss pass rush that recorded five sacks, tying for the most in the Dan McCarney era at North Texas. The Mean Green had planned giving backup quarterback DaMarcus Smith some playing time Saturday, and, midway through the second quarter, swapped out Andrew McNulty in favor of the more mobile Smith. Smith hit a 61-yard pass to Carlos Harris to set up NT's only trip into the red zone in the first half, but, on third and goal from the Southern Miss three-yard line, Smith was intercepted in the end zone.
The Southern Miss spread offense, meanwhile, solved the North Texas defense late in the first quarter. The Mean Green had a couple of early stops, but wore down as Golden Eagle QB Nick Mullens's quick release nullified any North Texas pass rush while the USM running game rolled up 248 yards. Mullens tossed a pair of touchdowns to spark Southern Miss to a 21-0 halftime lead, then threw for two more scores in the third quarter to swell the advantage to 35-0. Mullens finished with 325 yards passing to lead an offense that committed no turnovers and allowed no sacks.
North Texas went back to McNulty late in the third quarter, and he broke the shutout with a 23-yard touchdown toss to Harris, who had nine catches for 136 yards.
What They Said
"He's got to improve in managing our offense. There's a difference between potential and consistent performance. He got some real good experience and he'll learn from it."
--North Texas coach Dan McCarney on quarterback DaMarcus Smith
"Andy Mac is still our starter."
--McCarney on quarterback Andrew McNulty
• North Texas defensive back James Gray, who played junior-college ball in Mississippi, had a team-high seven tackles, including one for loss, and broke up a pass.
• Wide receiver Carlos Harris had another big game, catching nine passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, and topped 2,000 yards receiving for his career.
• Jeffrey Wilson tied his career-long run with a 20-yard rush early in the first quarter.
• Harris notched the fifth 100-yard receiving game of his career and the second of the season.
• QB DaMarcus Smith saw his first extended action for North Texas at QB, going one-for-eight with a 61-yard completion to Harris.
• North Texas allowed a season-high five sacks.
• The 61-yard pass by Smith was the second-longest of the season for NT and the second-longest since 2013.
• North Texas had just one turnover on the night, a season-low.
• NT was held scoreless in the first-quarter, and through four games has only scored six points in the first-quarter.
• Safety Kishawn McClain arrived at M.M. Roberts Stadium two hours before kickoff after attending the funeral of his grandmother, who passed away last week.
The Mean Green return to Apogee Stadium for a homecoming date with Portland State on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 4 p.m.