Football to play final home game Saturday

Football to play final home game Saturday

November 20
18:15 2014

Akshay Mirchandani / Sports Editor

The Mean Green football team will play Florida International University Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in what will be the last time the team takes the field at Apogee Stadium until 2015. The game can be viewed on TXA-21.

North Texas fell to 3-7 on the season after last week’s loss to the University of Texas – El Paso, which knocked the team out of bowl contention. Despite having no postseason hopes to play for, a win would give the Mean Green a winning record at home for the fourth straight season under head coach Dan McCarney.

“We’re trying to get to 16-7 since we opened this stadium. It’s pretty amazing considering what we stepped into,” McCarney said.

In addition, Saturday will also be the team’s senior day, where the 17 seniors will be honored for their contributions to the program. McCarney said that although the team can no longer win a bowl game, it is important to send the seniors out on a high note.

“What these guys have been through and what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve been a part of, it’s pretty special. I love them, I appreciate them,” McCarney said. “These guys have helped us reset every academic record since they’ve been keeping records here. They’ve helped us reset every attendance record since they’ve been keeping attendance records at North Texas, and they’ve helped us be part of history on the football field.”

FIU comes into Saturday at 4-7 overall, and, like the Mean Green, also eliminated from bowl contention. However, unlike the Mean Green, this will be FIU’s last game of the season. In addition, FIU boasts a defense that is sixth in Conference USA in rushing defense, fourth in passing defense, second in interceptions and second in sacks.

“This is going to be their last regular season game so of course they’re going to be fired up and ready to go,” junior wide receiver Carlos Harris said. “So, I’ll expect a great challenge and hopefully we’ll rise up and meet that challenge.”

In addition, the Mean Green defense will playing for its coordinator John Skladany, who will retire at season’s end. Senior linebacker Derek Akunne said not only does he want himself and the rest of the seniors to go out on the right note, but Skladany as well.

“I can’t say enough as to what he’s helped me learn as a football player,” Akunne said. “Everything he’s taught me, all the knowledge, information about the game I’ve learned from him. I think he’s helped make me the player I am today.”

Despite not being able to make a bowl game for a second straight year, Harris said the team will continue to play hard over the final two games to build momentum going into next year.

“Everyone’s goal is to make it to a bowl game and become a bowl champion, and that’s not available anymore,” Harris said. “But we’re still going to continue to play, and try to get something rolling into next season.”

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