North Texas Celebrates Homecoming With 31-10 Victory
Mean Green Defense Dominates FAU In 1,000th Game In Program History
DENTON - North Texas rode a big first half from running back Antoinne Jimmerson to a commanding lead, then got a huge special-teams play from Derrick Teegarden to put the brakes on a Florida Atlantic second-half rally in a 31-10 homecoming victory Saturday night at Apogee Stadium.
The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Mean Green.
"It was a big win after the drought we had," said offensive lineman Mason Y'Barbo. "It was the 1,000th game (in North Texas football history), and it was a great way to celebrate that."
"Don't sell this team short," North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. "This is a good statement win for us. There's a lot of integrity and character in this team. It was a real good team win."
The North Texas defense was outstanding Saturday. After being unable to get off the field in the last home game against Southern Miss, the Mean Green permitted FAU to convert just five of 16 third downs and held the Owls to 197 yards total offense while forcing a pair of turnovers.
"The defense played well," McCarney said. "They were consistent and made a lot of plays. We tackled well, and that's what we've got to do."
North Texas took control early. By halftime, Jimmerson had rushed for a season-high 106 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Andrew McNulty had completed seven passes for eight attempts for 68 yards yards and a score. On defense, defensive end Chad Polk lived in the FAU backfield, recording two tackles for loss and disrupting the Owl attack, which managed just 61 yards in the first half. Only a pair of mistakes on special teams - a failed fake field goal and a muffed punt - kept the game from being a complete blowout before halftime.
The Mean Green, however, couldn't carry that first-half momentum into the third quarter. NT's 21-3 halftime lead was chopped to 21-10 when FAU hit a 34-yard scoring pass on fourth and 14, and the Owls kept North Texas from answering by intercepting a McNulty pass in the FAU end zone.
But Teegarden killed FAU's rally early in the fourth quarter. Covering a North Texas punt, Teegarden made the tackle on the Owl return man, ripped the ball out, and recovered the fumble at the FAU 30-yard line. The play led to an 18-yard field goal by Trevor Moore, giving the Mean Green a 24-10 lead.
The Owls last gasp died late in the fourth quarter, when Kenny Buyers came up with an interception - just the third of the season FAU has thrown.
What They Said
"We challenged our offensive line. It was like challenging a pack of wolves to eat. It was a good response."
--running back Antoinne Jimmerson on the performance of the North Texas offensive line
"He had a temperature yesterday and this morning, but no one was going to keep him out. I had a feeling he was going to play well."
--Dan McCarney on Jimmerson's 111-yard rushing day
"The four seniors on the line got together and decided we wanted to play our most physical game. It's got to be that way the rest of the way."
--offensive lineman Mason Y'Barbo on the line's determination Saturday
On the Mean Green's first possession of the game, Antoinne Jimmerson moved into the top 20 all-time at North Texas in yards rushing. Jimmerson had 111 yards Saturday night, giving him 1,525 for his career, moving him past Dwain Bean and Scott Davis into 19th place. He is just 31 yards behind All-Century running back Ray Renfro for 18th place.
North Texas attempted its first fake kick of the year when it ran a fake field goal on its opening drive of the game. Lined up for a 38-yard field-goal attempt, holder Blake Macek completed a pass to Cooper Jones, but the play came up less than a yard short of the first down.
Jimmerson scored the game's first points on a 41-yard run, his longest run of the season and the Mean Green's second-longest touchdown run of the year. The run was made possible by a down-field block by wide receiver Turner Smiley.
Quarterback Andrew McNulty's first-half performance was one of the best of his career. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 107 yards, threw for one touchdown and ran for another to make it 21-3 midway through the second quarter. The rushing TD was his first of the year.
Defensive end Chad Polk had a career high three tackles for loss.
This was the Mean Green's fourth-straight win over Florida Atlantic.
Tight end Marcus Smith scored his fourth touchdown of the season, pulling in 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Derek Teegarden's forced and recovered fumble in the fourth quarter were the first of his career.
The Mean Green's record on homecoming is now 42-22-1.
Freshman place kicker Trevor Moore made his ninth field goal in 10 attempts this year when he hit an 18-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Kenny Buyers's interception was his first of the year.
Jarrod Lynn had a three-yard touchdown run to conclude the scoring. It was the first touchdown of his career.
This year's inductees to the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame were honored before the game. Football players Willie Parker and Leonard Dunlap, men's basketball player Walter "Weasel" Johnson, and women's basketball coach Judy Nelson were in attendance. Last year, Parker and Dunlap were named to the North Texas All-Century football team.
North Texas travels to El Paso to face UTEP next Saturday, Nov. 15, at 9 p.m.