The North Texas Mean Green football win streak ended on Saturday at the hands of Florida Atlantic, losing 41-17 in the Conference-USA Championship game in Boca Raton, Florida.
It’s the second time Florida Atlantic (10-3) has beaten North Texas (9-4) this season. The first win wasn’t close either, ending in a 69-31 rout in October.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge,” North Texas head coach Seth Littrell said after the game. “They’re really smart in what they do. They’re not going to give up the big play.”
Florida Atlantic got off to a quick start and didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal, throttling to a 27-0 lead heading into halftime. The Owls scored on five of their first six possessions, including three touchdowns and a pair of field goals.
Lane Kiffin’s squad connected on arguably the most impressive Owls touchdown of the game to open the third quarter. A 54-yard pass from Jason Driskel to Kalib Woods made the score 34-0, a lead big enough to ride all the way to the end for the victory.
The connection between Driskel and Woods was deadly all game. Woods was on the receiving end for 208 of Driskel’s 269 total yards on just six receptions. Their chemistry in the passing game was complimented by a huge day for running back Devin Singletary, who finished with 164 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
The Mean Green offense struggled in the first half but still put up gaudy numbers in the passing game. Standout sophomore quarterback Mason Fine was 28-for-44 with 356 yards but was only able to find the end zone once. That score came on a 77-yard bomb to Turner Smiley in the third quarter. Smiley finished with 105 yards on four receptions while teammate Rico Bussey caught eight passes for 109 yards
“I came out a little hesitant. I didn’t play loose,” Mean Green quarterback Mason Fine said. “I thought we had a great game plan. We were put in great situations, we just didn’t execute.”
Although they were able to produce on the outside, the Mean Green could not get the running game going all night. Nic Smith led the team with 50 rushing yards on 14 carries – he has replaced an injured Jeffrey Wilson, who had been putting up huge performances all season and was a crucial piece for the North Texas offense.
“They dominated us up front,” Littrell said. “We couldn’t get the run going.”
Both teams are bowl eligible and await an announcement of their next opponent on Sunday. North Texas hopes to avenge last year’s loss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, while Florida Atlantic heads to the postseason for the first time since 2008.
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