UNT moves to first in C-USA West Division with fifth straight win

UNT moves to first in C-USA West Division with fifth straight win

UNT moves to first in C-USA West Division with fifth straight win
November 09
18:47 2013

Brett Medeiros / Senior Staff Writer

On homecoming, in front of the second-largest crowd ever at Apogee Stadium, the Mean Green football team beat the University of Texas-El Paso 41-7 for its fifth straight victory.

In front of a crowd of 26,119, UNT (7-3, 5-1) moved into first in the Conference USA West Division and holds the tiebreaker with runner-up Rice University.

“These players have risen to the challenge many times this year,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “They want to be remembered. They want to be part of something special.”

The Mean Green special teams starred in the first half. Sophomore defensive tackle Austin Orr blocked a UTEP (1-8, 0-5) field goal attempt that led to UNT’s first touchdown. With 14 seconds left in the first quarter, freshman running back Rex Rollins got his hands on a punt that was corralled in the end zone by freshman receiver Darvin Kidsy to give the Mean Green a 14-0 lead.

“We went an entire season last year and didn’t block one kick, and that’s inexcusable,” McCarney said. “Tremendous job by our special teams to make those big plays today.”

Senior running back Brandin Byrd rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yard score straight up the middle. With an 85-yard touchdown run last year against the University of Southern Alabama, Byrd is the only running back in UNT history to have two runs of more than 80 yards in a career.

“I did pretty good running the ball, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the offensive line,” Byrd said. “They’re the key to success.”

Freshman defensive back Chad Davis tackles wide receiver Jim Jones in the first quarter of UNT's 41-7 win over UTEP. Photo by Edward Balusek, Staff Photographer.

Freshman defensive back Chad Davis tackles wide receiver Jim Jones in the first quarter of UNT’s 41-7 win over UTEP. Photo by Edward Balusek, Staff Photographer.

It was a rough day for UTEP freshman quarterback Mack Leftwich, making his first collegiate start. The UNT defense recorded eight sacks and an interception – although it failed to force a fumble for the first time all season.

UTEP freshman running back Aaron Jones experienced his worst game of the season with just five rushes on six carries. Coming into the game, he was 24th in the nation with 100.6 yards per game.

“We just went out there and played Mean Green defense,” senior defensive end Aaron Bellazin said. “We continue to do it week by week no matter who the opponent is.”

With Tulane University suffering its second conference loss to the University of Texas-San Antonio, the Mean Green is in control of the C-USA West Division. If UNT wins its final two games of the season against UTSA and the University of Tulsa, the team will win the division and play in the C-USA Championship. With seven wins, McCarney said UNT is a lock for a bowl game.

The Mean Green receives a bye next week and will return to action on Nov. 23 against UTSA for its final home game of the season.

Box score

Feature image: The attendance of 26,119 was the second-most at Apogee Stadium and fourth-most in UNT history. The Mean Green beat UTEP 41-7. Photo by Edward Balusek, Staff Photographer.

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