North Texas Outlasts Southern Miss to Keep Bowl Dreams Alive

Souther Miss scores 20 unanswered points, only to lose in final moments.

By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)

First-year head coach at North Texas Seth Littrell inched a little closer to that coveted bowl berth with a 29-23 win over Southern Miss on Senior Day.

If you were hoping for a barn burner between these two, that’s exactly what you got.

The Golden Eagles couldn’t get a handle on the Mean Green offense --- better yet, WR Turner Smiley --- in the first half. QB Alec Morris found Smiley twice before halftime to propel North Texas to an early 17-0 lead, once on a successful flea flicker.

In fact, the Golden Eagles, led by freshman QB Keon Howard in the absence Nick Mullens, didn’t score until RB Ito Smith made a nifty move to punch it in from one yard out just before halftime.

In the second half, Southern Miss, fighting to keep their second season hopes alive, came back to tie the game. RB George Payne found pay dirt from 16 yards out to cap an offensive spurt of 20 unanswered points.

However, when the game reached its most pivotal breaking points, the Mean Green converted when it mattered most. On a saucy late game scamper, North Texas RB Willy Ivery would all but ice the game on a frigid night in Apogee Stadium.

In the waning moments of action in Denton, all hopes of a heroic late-game comeback for Southern Miss were picked out of the sky by North Texas DB Nate Brooks. Brooks had two interceptions on Saturday night.

The Mean Green take the show on the road to El Paso, TX next weekend to face the UTEP Miners. A win would make North Texas bowl eligible.

Southern Miss must win at home against East Division-leading Louisiana Tech to keep their postseason dreams alive.