The Mean Green traveled to Murfeesboro Tennessee last week and were beat 38-21 by Middle Tennessee, but the team still came back home to Apogee with high hopes for the rest of the season. They faced off against Arkansas State Saturday night on Homecoming in front of 17,534 fans. UNT was looking for their 4th win of the season, but things didn’t go according to plan and UNT fell 37-19 to ASU.
The game opened up with one of the strangest plays I’ve ever seen in a football game as ASU’s return man fumbled the ball just out of the end zone, brought the ball back, and then took a knee resulting in a safety and 2-0 UNT lead to start the game. The Mean Green would have loved to build on that 2-0 lead, but that was about all the momentum that they could muster up all game. ASU scored the first offensive points of the game on yet another big play given up by the Mean Green secondary as QB Ryan Aplin connected with Julian Jones for a 59 yard touchdown. Derek Thompson answered back leading a 75 yard drive to give UNT their first and only lead of the game on a 2 yard touchdown run.
The second quarter ended up being the death of the Mean Green: they gave up 20 points and could only add a Zack Olen field goal; they went into the half down 30-12. The last time that UNT were at home, they were able to fight back from a deficit and eventually beat Louisiana-Lafayette. But the Mean Green had much more to worry about heading into the half because quarterback Derek Thompson went down with a knee injury late in the 2nd quarter after attempting to make a tackle when ASU recovered a fumble. Needless to say, Thompson against a defensive player wasn’t a good matchup and he got the bad end of the interaction, but he showed a lot of toughness coming back out to start the second half and play the rest of the game.
The teams traded touchdown scores in the 3rd quarter and each went scoreless in the 4th to finish the game with ASU winning 37-19. UNT’s QB Derek Thompson actually had a pretty good day throwing the ball; he went 28-47 for 316 yards and a TD plus his rushing TD. While Thompson had one of his better games of the season, reigning Sun Belt offensive player of the year Ryan Aplin, who went 25-32 for 328 yards and 2TD’s, outplayed him. After the game, the players were disappointed, but none of them had given up hope fpr the rest of their season. Zack Orr explained:
“The season’s not over, we can win the last 3 and were back to 6-6 you never know what can happen. We still have a whole lot of football left to play”.
UNT QB Derek Tompson added:
“It just makes the road that much harder, it’s not going to be easy. We have 3 games left to make a statement, our motto is to finish strong and that’s what were going to work on.”
One thing the Mean Green will have to do is if they want to win those last 3 games is create turnovers on defense. They have 13 turnovers this season, but just 1 in their last 4 games. The lack of turnovers is one key reason they’ve only won one of those games. Zack Orr commented on what they need to do to try and create more turnovers:
“Just make plays, be where we are supposed to be at, go for the ball and just be in position to make plays when the quarterback throws the ball.”
The Mean Green play their last home game of the 2012 season this Saturday against South Alabama, giving the 17 seniors on the roster their last home game of their careers. The players still have confidence that they will finish strong, I’m excited to see how they react this Saturday at Apogee.