Mean Green Unable To Rally Against Marshall Defense
Wilson Rushes For 138 But North Texas Falls To Herd, 30-13
North Texas quarterback DaMarcus Smith spent much of Saturday afternoon scrambling against Marshall's conference-leading defense (photo by David Pyke)
HUNTINGTON, WV - A re-invigorated Mean Green football team went toe-to-toe with league-leading Marshall from the second quarter on, but couldn't overcome a 17-point first-quarter haymaker against the Herd's league-best defense in a 30-13 loss.
On a soggy, grey Saturday afternoon, North Texas surrendered 17 points before its offense had crossed midfield. The Mean Green (0-7 on the year, 0-4 in C-USA) got its bearings in the second quarter and was able to get some stops on defense and sustain some drives on offense, but could never get the big play or turnover needed to ignite a comeback against Marshall (7-1, 4-0).
"Our kids are playing hard," North Texas head coach Mike Canales said,. "Our defense played their living butts off. I'm so proud of them. We just have to build off this."
North Texas running back Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 138 yards on 17 carries, the second-most yards allowed by Marshall and just the third 100-yard rusher against the Herd this season.
But the Mean Green passing game was shut down. The open field that North Texas quarterback DaMarcus Smith exploited last week against Western Kentucky to the tune of 228 yards through the air, 122 on the ground and four passing touchdowns was no where to be found this week. The Thundering Herd's defense, allowing a Conference-USA low 17 points per game, allowed North Texas just two first downs and 31 yards total offense in the opening quarter.
The Mean Green leveled the play in the second quarter, getting pressure on Marshall QB Chase Litton to disrupt the Herd offense, which in turn gave NT's offense better field position. Behind Smith and Wilson, North Texas out-gained the Herd in the second and third periods but couldn't capitalize, settling for a pair of Trevor Moore field goals. The Mean Green's lone touchdown, on a 22-yard pass from Smith to Darvin Kidsy, who made a sensational diving catch, came with 1:09 to play.
The loss is North Texas' eighth in a row dating back to last season, one short of the longest losing streak in program history.
What They Said
"We had some protection issues early, and DaMarcus has to see and make the right read. We made some adjustments at halftime, and I saw some positive things."
--Coach Mike Canales on his offense's early struggles
"He gives us a chance the way he's running the football"
--Canales on running back Jeffrey Wilson's 138-yard performance
"We won the second half, and that's something we can build on"
--Canales on his team's second-half performance
The Mean Green's weekend got off to a rough start Friday. The team was scheduled to fly out of Dallas Love Field at 1 p.m. on a charter flight from Southwest Airlines, but Southwest failed to provide an airplane as scheduled. The team waited in the airport through delay after delay after delay, finally boarding a plane at 6 p.m. However, the plane had too much fuel, which would have put it over weight limits on its arrival in West Virginia, so an additional two hours were spent waiting on the tarmac while a fuel truck was dispatched to remove some of the fuel. The Southwest charter was not wheels up until 8 p.m., seven hours after scheduled departure. But there was one more surprise in store: the team arrived at the hotel in West Virginia to find that its luggage had been well and truly soaked in the Dallas rain.
North Texas' second-quarter field goal was the first points the Mean Green have scored in the all-time series against Marshall. NT was shut out in the first meeting, 7-0, in 1988.
Jeffrey Wilson finished the game with a career-high 138 rushing yards, topping his previous high of 136 and recording his second 100-yard game of the season and third of his career.
Wilson had a career-long run of 38 yards in the fourth-quarter.
Safety Kisahwn McClain had his third game of double-digit tackles, he finished with 14.
Malik Dilonga had this third career sack. He finished with a career-high 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
Trevor Moore connected on 37- and 26-yard field goals, his seventh and eighth of the season and first field goal since a kick against Iowa.
T.J. Taaulo recorded his first career sack in the fourth quarter.
Defensive tackle Austin Orr notched his fourth tackle for loss of the season and seventh of his career.
Freshman defensive tackle Roderick Young had his second tackle for loss when he and Dilonga combined on a stop in the first quarter.
Marshall outscored NT 17-0 in the first quarter, and the Mean Green has now been outscored 73-6 in the first quarter this season.
The Mean Green return home for a Halloween-night game at Apogee Stadium against UT-San Antonio on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 6 p.m.