North Texas just couldn’t get out of its own way.
The Mean Green had everything going for themselves against Alabama-Birmingham at Legion Field on Saturday, until they didn’t.
A safety that cut their lead to 21-12 early in the third quarter completely shifted the momentum of the game in the Blazers’ favor, as they went on to score the final 19 points in a 29-21 victory.
UNT (6-2, 2-2) was in danger of letting UAB back to within a score early in the third when senior DB Nate Brooks stripped and recovered a fumble at the Mean Green 1 to preserve the two-score cushion. However, Mason Fine was sacked in the end zone by Garrett Marino a play later for a safety to make it 21-12.
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The Blazers seized the momentum from that safety to cut UNT’s lead to 21-19 after a Spencer Brown 3-yard touchdown run on their following possession.
Brown wasn’t done. He found the endzone on UAB’s very next possession - a 7-play, 67-yard drive - to give the Blazers a 26-21 lead with 14:16 remaining.
UNT failed to convert a 4th-and-1 at the UAB 39 on its next drive and then, a bit later in the fourth, Fine was stripped at the UAB 1.
Fine got the Mean Green on the board when he hooked up with Rico Bussey, Jr. for a 55-yard touchdown pass with 7:58 left in the first quarter. It was Bussey’s team-leading ninth scoring reception of the season.
Jaelon Darden had receptions of 11 and 16 yards on the drive, which spanned 87 yards on six plays in 2:15.
A UAB field goal closed the gap just a bit before Fine widened it again with an 11-yard TD pass to Darden with 12:40 left in the second quarter. Darden hauled in a 13-yard pass on a 3rd-and-10 during the drive.
UAB (6-1, 4-0) returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards and only needed two plays after that to tighten the game at 14-10 58 seconds after UNT’s score. But Fine and Darden continued to be a problem and hooked up for a 24-yard touchdown with 3:32 left before half.
Fine completed 29-of-40 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Darden had 10 receptions for 143 yards and those two scores.
North Texas will look to get back on track when it hosts Rice for homecoming on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. (ESPN+).