UNT football comes back for 28-16 victory over Rice and bowl eligibility

UNT football comes back for 28-16 victory over Rice and bowl eligibility

UNT football comes back for 28-16 victory over Rice and bowl eligibility
October 31
22:47 2013

Tim Cato / Sports Editor and Brett Medeiros / Senior Staff Writer

The Mean Green football team surged back against Rice University in a 28-16 win on Thursday for its sixth win of the year, making the team bowl-eligible for the first time in nine years.

Rice (6-3, 4-1) had a chance to make it a one-score game, driving the ball to the one-yard line with nearly ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. Including a defensive holding that extended the drive, the Owls ran eight straight plays within the five-yard line – and the Mean Green (6-3, 4-1) defense did not give up another inch to force a turnover on downs.

“I’m just blown away by the effort made on that goal line stand,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “It was just representative of this football team – the courage, the resolve, the toughness, the never-say-die attitude.”

After Rice scored its second touchdown of the game to take a 16-7 lead with 9:06 left in the second quarter, the UNT defense toughened and the team rallied for 21 unanswered points.

“That just shows the grit and the heart of this team,” senior linebacker Zach Orr said. “If we’re in the red zone and have our backs against the wall, we have to be fearless and that’s what we did.”

Senior safety Marcus Trice led the team with two interceptions and a forced fumble that was recovered by Orr and returned for the team’s first touchdown. UNT’s 28 turnovers this year is second in the nation, one behind the University of Houston.

“[Trice] is just my kind of player,” McCarney said. “He’s got toughness. He’s got confidence. He’s got real short memory if he makes a mistake and he’s just a joy to coach.”

Senior receiver Brelan Chancellor exploded for a 65-yard punt return touchdown that put the team up 21-16 and gave the lead back to UNT for good. It was the first punt return touchdown in Chancellor’s career and the first at UNT since 2004.

It’s been nine seasons since the team last went to the New Orleans Bowl in 2004, but UNT’s six wins means the team is bowl-eligible this year. The top seven teams in Conference USA receive automatic bids to a bowl game.

“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity since we first got here,” Chancellor said. “It’s been a long-time coming.”

On offense, sophomore running back Antoinne Jimmerson starred with a 42-yard rushing touchdown and a 46-yard touchdown reception. He led the team in both rushing and receiving yardage.

On Halloween night, UNT debuted black uniforms and many of the fans wore costumes in the stands. The official attendance was announced at 22,835 – the highest attendance this season.

The Mean Green faces the University of Texas-El Paso (1-6, 0-4) next Saturday in the second of three straight home games.

Box score

Senior running back Brandin Byrd accelerates out of the backfield after a hand-off. The Mean Green topped Rice University 28-16 on Thursday night. Feature photo by Ryan Vance, Staff Photographer.  

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