Mistakes doom Mean Green in loss to Power Five foe Iowa

Mistakes doom Mean Green in loss to Power Five foe Iowa

Mistakes doom Mean Green in loss to Power Five foe Iowa
September 16
19:23 2017

With the first quarter clock dwindling down and Iowa facing third and goal from eight yards out, quarterback Nate Stanley took the snap for the Hawkeyes. After dropping back, Stanley fired the ball into the end zone.

North Texas sophomore defensive end LaDarius Hamilton reacted by throwing his hands up, tipping the pass and popping it into the air. The ball completely changed trajectory and went straight to the hands of Iowa receiver T.J. Hockenson, tying the game at 7-7.

This was the first of several  “what could have been” moments for the Mean Green Saturday afternoon.

Iowa (3-0) went on to defeat North Texas (1-2) 31-14 in Iowa City.

“They knew it was going to be a physical football game,” head coach Seth Littrell said of his team. “I thought they held up really well. Their mentality was right today to go out there and play that style of football.”

The style of football Littrell alluded to is the pro-style, ground-and-pound offense Iowa has run effectively for 19 years under coach Kirk Ferentz.

The run game set the Hawkeyes up with manageable third downs while also dominating the game’s time of possession. Iowa finished 11-for-18 on third downs, marking the second consecutive week the Mean Green’s opponent converted at least 50 percent of its third down opportunities.

Iowa had the ball for nearly 41 of 60 minutes Saturday.

“We have to get off the field on third downs,” Littrell said. “It was poor. We have to get that fixed for us to have success this year. At the end of the day, we have to make competitive plays and get off the field.”

The Hawkeyes’ running game took a hit when their first two rushing options went down with injuries. However, freshmen Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin stepped up and combined to shred the Mean Green defense for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.

“The [defense] did a good job but after a while you’re going to start getting worn down,” Littrell said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

In addition to the struggles slowing down the run game, North Texas gave up 119 yards on 13 penalties.

The Mean Green also lost a fumble after a fumble recovery by junior defensive lineman Ulaiasi Tauaalo, likely taking points off the board. Tauaalo recovered an Iowa fumble but had the ball poked out of his hands during the ensuing return.

The Hawkeyes blocked a field goal in the middle of the second quarter, adding to the missed opportunities for North Texas.

The chances were there for the Mean Green to be in a position to win, but the team continuously got in its own way throughout the game.

“We did a lot of good things,” Littrell said. “We had some mistakes in the first half that cost us. We talked all week long about having a chance in the fourth quarter to win the game and they gave themselves that chance.”

Senior running back Jeffery Wilson rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Wilson scored on the first drive of the game for North Texas when he exploded through the line and evaded defenders on his way to a 41-yard touchdown run.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine went 16-for-26 for 167 yards and one interception. Fine went down with an injury in the final seconds of the first half, and senior quarterback Quinn Shanbour led the offense to its final score of the game.

Shanbour went 2-for-2 for 26 yards and a touchdown, finding Jalen Guyton in the end zone to give the Mean Green a 14-10 lead going into the half.

“I think they went out and believed they could complete, something that no one else thought they could.” Littrell said. “I thought we were the most excited team to play and we played extremely hard.”

Featured Image: Wide receiver Turner Smiley is hit by an SMU defender after catching a pass in North Texas’ contest against the Mustangs at Ford Stadium in Dallas. SMU won the Week 2 game 54-32. 

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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