Willy Ivery plunged in from 4 yards out, Rice’s Darik Dillard was stuffed on fourth-and-1 on the ensuing drive, and North Texas escaped Rice with a 42-35 win in two overtimes Saturday night.
Jeffrey Wilson led North Texas (2-2, 1-0 C-USA) with 157 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Mason Fine added 224 yards through the air with a touchdown. Kenny Buyers caught four passes for 102 yards.
Dillard sent the game into overtime with a 1-yard run that capped an eight-play, 74-yard drive with 2:34 left. After each team exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime period, Ivery ran in his second touchdown of the game for a 42-35 Mean Green lead. Rice drove the ball to the North Texas 16 on its final possession before Dillard was stopped for a loss to end the game.
Tyler Stehling threw for 232 yards and ran for 92 with a passing touchdown to lead Rice (0-4, 0-2). Dillard had added 67 yards and two scores.
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Rice jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Fine hit Ivery on a 16 yard pass for a touchdown and Wilson scored on a 1-yard run just before halftime to cut the Owl’s lead to 17-14 at halftime. Wilson’s score was set up by a 75-yard pass from Fine to Buyers.
A 36-yard field goal by Hayden. Tobola put Rice up 20-14 midway through the third quarter, but a 75-yard touchdown run by Ivery and a 1-yard score by Ivery gave North Texas a 28-20 lead with 7:31 to play.
Rice tied the game with 2:34 left in regulation on a 1-yard run by Dillard and Stehling completed a pass to Robby Wells for a two-point conversion to set up overtime.
Both teams finished with more than 400 yards of total offense. Rice led the way with 491 total yards, split evening between passing 236 and rushing 255. North Texas gained 439 and was equally balanced at 224 passing and 215 rushing.
It was the seventh meeting between the two schools with Rice holding a 4-3 edge. The North Texas victory ended a two-game winning streak by the Owls in the series, including their previous meeting in Houston in 2014, where Rice won 41-21. The last North Texas win against Rice came in 2013, when North Texas won a 28-16 game at Apogee Stadium.
North Texas heads into a tough stretch beginning against Middle Tennessee State at 6 p.m. Saturday at Apogee Stadium in Denton, followed by another home game against Marshall on Oct. 8. UNT then hits the road to take on Army on Oct. 22.