Mean Green Comeback Falls Just Short, 26-23

Miami, Fla. (11/12/05) The Florida Atlantic Owls held off a furious North Texas comeback to hang onto a 26-23 victory on Saturday afternoon at Dolphins Stadium.


The Owls (2-8, 1-5 Sun Belt) won their second game of the season and defeated the Mean Green (2-7, 2-3 Sun Belt) for the second straight year. The loss snapped NT’s 14-game Sun Belt winning streak on the road.


After trailing by scores of 17-0 and 23-6, North Texas engineered a 17-point comeback during the fourth quarter to tie the game and try for a potential game-winning drive. Freshman quarterback Matt Phillips came in for the injured Daniel Meager and helped put together three scoring drives for the Mean Green.


Nick Bazaldua’s 47-yard field-goal attempt that would have put the game into overtime with two seconds remaining, bounced off the right upright, halting the Mean Green comeback. The senior tied the game earlier at 23-23 with his first 47-yard attempt with 5:25 left on the clock.


FAU responded with a 49-yard drive that resulted with a 33-yard game-winning field goal by Daniel Kennard with 1:38 left. The Owls rushed for 227 yards in the game and 378 yards of total offense.


The shifting of momentum during the game came when North Texas denied a two-point conversion by the Owls at the start of the fourth quarter. Down 23-6, Philips came on to lead NT on a six play, 55-yards drive, including a 37-yard pass to Joel Nwigwe. The drive resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run by Phillips to give the Mean Green its first offensive score of the game.  It was Phillips’ first rushing touchdown of his Mean Green career.


After a successful on-sides kick by Denis Hopovak, Phillips and Nwigwe hooked up again for a 53-yard touchdown, which is the longest passing play by the Mean Green this year.  It was Nwigwe’s first touchdown reception this season. North Texas was within three, 23-20, after scoring 14 points in 12 seconds.


The Mean Green defense came up strong after Jeremiah Chapman sacked Sean Clayton on a key third-down play, resulting in an FAU punt. Starting on its own 25-yard line, the Mean Green offense moved 45 yards down the field to set up Bazuldua’s game-tying field goal.


North Texas trailed 10-0 at halftime and has now been outscored 160-21 in the first half this year.  It was the fourth time this year the Mean Green has been held scoreless in the first half.


North Texas mounted a 14-play, 8:15 drive in the first quarter, but came away with no points.  It was the longest drive of the year in terms of game clock and tied the longest drive of the season in terms of plays.


North Texas’ Zach Muzzy blocked a punt in the third quarter that was recovered by Brandon Jackson for a touchdown resulting in the Mean Green’s first score of the game.  It was the first blocked punt return for a touchdown since Patrick Cobbs did it against Troy in 2003.


 Matt Phillips threw for a career-high 138 yards on 8-of-16 passing. Wide receiver Joel Nwigwe had a career-high seven receptions. Senior running back Patrick Cobbs had 79 yards rushing at halftime which is the second-most yards for him in the first half this season. He finished the game with 142 yards rushing.


Steve Warren led the defense with 12 tackles, including nine solo. Brandon Monroe followed with nine.


North Texas returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 19 when it faces Louisiana-Monroe at 6 pm in Fouts Field.









North Texas Mean Green