Top Moments of 2016: Mason Fine Runs Over Bethune-Cookman Safety
Freshman QB Mason Fine Made His First Career Start In Seth Littrell's First Win
DENTON -- Over the next few weeks, each Friday MeanGreenSports.com will look back on some of the top moments of the 2016 Mean Green football season.
We continue the series in Denton in week two against Bethune-Cookman. Leading 21-7 just before halftime, North Texas faced a third-and-five at its own 30 yard line. True freshman quarterback Mason Fine, making his first career start, took off on a run-pass option that opened up and scampered 25 yards up the middle. The 5'11" Oklahoma native punctuated that run by trucking the oncoming safety, Diquan Richardson, just across midfield.
North Texas later scored on the drive right before halftime, as kicker Trevor Moore converted a 19-yard field goal to push the Mean Green lead to 24-7. They never looked back on their way to the first win of the Seth Littrell era, 41-20 over the visiting Wildcats.
The moment that truly introduced Fine to the Mean Green faithful could certainly be traced to that big run. Fine went on to start eight more games for North Texas, helping lead it to its first bowl game since the 2013-14 season. An injury at Western Kentucky ended up finishing his season prematurely in early November, but that Sept. 10 moment certainly got things started for the two-time Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year.
Let's look a little closer at Fine's powerful run and dissect it a bit. One of the key dimensions Fine brought to Littrell and Graham Harrell's offense was his ability to run, so Harrell dialed up the run-pass option for his freshman signal-caller on third and medium.
"It's a play where we can either pass the ball or I can tuck it and run," Fine said of the call. "Pre-snap I could already tell the defense had five in the box. Our receiver didn't get out very clean on my first read and I knew based on the defensive alignment that I was going to have a pretty good hole to run through."
In the gun with four wide receivers and Jeffery Wilson to his left, Fine took a couple of steps back before propelling himself forward through a large hole created by his guards on each side. Garrett Gunter forced his assignment to the outside, while Sam Rice drove the defensive tackle he was lined up against to his left, creating a tremendous lane for Fine.
Wilson and center Creighton Barr were left to lead the way to the second level, where Wilson met the linebacker at about the 36, while Barr finished off that block.
"Everybody picked up their blocks pretty well and I had Jeffery and Creighton as my two lead blockers," Fine continued. "Jeff picked up the backer and I was able to outrun Creighton and the linebacker."
That is where Fine met Richardson at the Bethune-Cookman 49, lowering his head and delivering a punishing hit to the safety. Fine bulldozed over Richardson, who eventually brought him down four yards later. A play that undoubtedly fired up his teammates and the crowd, Fine helped lead North Texas down the field to finish the drive right just before halftime.
"I saw the other safety coming from my right and 22 [Richardson] was coming at me at an angle where I didn't think I could cut it back," Fine said. "I was just excited and ducked in and tried to run over him and pick up some extra yardage. That kind of sparked everybody with a big play we were able to continue that momentum the rest of the game."
The Mean Green enter fall camp on July 30, with report day. Stay tuned each Friday before camp for some more of the top moments from last season.
Other Top Moments From 2016
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