In a season full of setbacks and reverses, North Texas was more than happy to be denied sharing one school record on Saturday.
A 30-23 victory over UT San Antonio in a game pitting two tales of football woe in Conference USA halted the Mean Green’s losing streak at eight, one shy of tying the school record set in 2008.
The best part about it is even though things haven’t gone our way, we can say we stuck together through it all.
North Texas quarterback DaMarcus Smith
Grief-stricken DaMarcus Smith, who missed two days of practice last week attending the funeral of a close friend, accounted for the game-winner, a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 1:39 to play.
Victory felt not like a monkey, but rather a piano, off the back in a moment that was every bit as emotional as triumph at the Super Bowl.
“It’s a huge weight lifted off our shoulders,” said Smith, who had 154 yards rushing, including a big 54-yard sprint to the Roadrunners’ 1 on the winning drive, which began the 9:30 mark of the fourth quarter. “We stuck together for seven weeks.
“The best part about it is even though things haven’t gone our way, we can say we stuck together through it all.”
You could feel it. You could see the look in our players’ faces. Seeing that look and that drive and throwing towels around. It was a blessed night.
North Texas running back Jeffrey Wilson
Instead of being victimized by big plays, the Mean Green made some in the second half.
North Texas (1-7, 1-4 C-USA) took its first lead since the second quarter of the second game of the season, against Rice, going up 14-10 on a fumble recovered and returned 45 yards by Kishawn McClain.
UTSA (1-7, 1-3) regained the lead quickly on a 4-yard run by Tyrell Clay. The Mean Green, though, showed resilience, fighting back with Willy Ivery’s 5-yard touchdown run, which set up a game-changer.
The Roadrunners regained the lead, 23-21, on Dalton Sturm’s short touchdown pass.
On the point-after attempt, North Texas’ Austin Orr surged through the line and blocked the kick. Chad Davis picked the ball up and ran down the sideline, with his teammates providing a blocking escort all the way to the end zone to tie the game.
“You could feel it” at that point, said running back Jeffrey Wilson, who contributed 127 yards and a touchdown for North Texas. “You could see the look in our players’ faces. Seeing that look and that drive and throwing towels around. It was a blessed night.”
Taking possession after the UTSA touchdown, Smith led North Texas on a five-play drive covering 75 yards.
North Texas had two 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2012. Wilson’s total marked his third 100-yard game this season.
The Mean Green allowed 475 yards, but it made plays at the right times.
“We’ve been trying to do that for two years now and we finally got one tonight,” Davis said of the blocked point-after attempt and return. “I feel like that brought a lot of momentum to the team.”