Top Moments Of 2016: Fine's 80-Yard TD Run At UTSA

July 21, 2017

DENTON – Each Friday in July, looks back on some of the top moments of the 2016 Mean Green football season.

We continue the series in San Antonio in late October against UT San Antonio. Though North Texas fell 31-17 that Saturday, history was made by then-freshman quarterback Mason Fine.

Following a lackluster first half of play with host UTSA on top 14-0, things appeared bleak for the Mean Green. Fine injected life into his team on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, exploding for the longest run by a quarterback in program history.

With the ball on the North Texas 20-yard-line, Fine lined up in the gun with four receivers wide and running back Jeffery Wilson to his right.

“Pre-snap we were able to diagnose man coverage,” Fine said of the UTSA defense. “I saw six in the box and we motioned our back out to my left. [I knew] If no one went with him, I’m going to throw it because we’ve got it blocked up on the left and we are confident Jeffery can take the safety one-on-one. This play gives me a run-pass option. In this case, the backer went with Jeff, so we all know they are manned up in cover one. If no one goes with Jeffery there, it’s an easy decision to get the ball in our playmaker’s hands, but because the backer went with Jeffery, there are now just five in the box.”

With the numbers in North Texas’ favor with five linemen there to block five UTSA defenders in the box, it came down to simple execution. The tackles and guards opened up the middle of the field by maintaining their blocks, freeing a ton of space for Fine to exploit.

Fine took a quick three-step drop before making a decisive move into the vacated space. Senior center Sam Rice got out in front and planted a great block on Roadrunner linebacker Josaiah Tauaefa, taking him out of the play about four yards from the line of scrimmage.

“Sam was able to get to the linebacker, allowing me to cut straight off his block, and that left me one-on-one with the safety,” Fine said. “The rest of the defenders were also one-on-one, so they were focused on their assignment which is the receiver, rather than on me.”

The receiving duo to Fine’s right, Thaddeous Thompson and Turner Smiley, played a big part in taking their respective defenders out of the play. Smiley’s big block at the 36 yard-line in the slot freed Fine to get past UTSA safety Nate Gaines and take it to the end zone.

Fine exploded for the 80-yard score, cutting the deficit to 14-7. Unfortunately on that day, North Texas would get no closer. After forcing a quick three-and-out on the ensuing UTSA possession, the Mean Green committed one of its four turnovers on the evening. A 17-3 stretch for the Roadrunners opened the game up to 31-10, and they held on for the 31-17 win.

“We had our opportunities to win that game,” Fine said. “Unfortunately we just didn’t make the plays we needed to, but at the time, the touchdown jump-started us a bit and gave us a good chance to get back into the game.”

The 80-yard run was the longest play from scrimmage on the season for North Texas, and etched Fine’s name into the record books with the longest quarterback run in school history. It was also the 13th longest rushing play by a Mean Green player, regardless of position.

“We happened to call the perfect play in this case against the perfect defense,” Fine said. “Everyone executed their job, and when everyone does that, you have the chance to hit big plays. It was an all-around great play by everybody doing what they were supposed to do. This isn’t just my record, it’s everyone’s, all of the players involved, as well as the coaches.”

The Mean Green enter fall camp on Sunday, July 30, with report day. Stay tuned next Friday for the final installment of the top moments from last season.



North Texas Mean Green