North Texas feels like momentum may be on their side with conference play underway and for good reason. The Mean Green won their Conference USA opener in dramatic fashion over the weekend when kicker Trevor Moore hit the game-winning field goal with seven seconds left on the clock for the 46-43 win over UAB.
The win evened the Mean Green’s record to 2-2 on the season. North Texas is also tied for first in the C-USA West Division. Now, the focus shifts to a trip this weekend to face Southern Miss. It will be the first conference game of the season for the Golden Eagles, who are 2-1 overall and coming off a bye week.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Mean Green will look to get their first road win of the season on Saturday. They are 0-2 away from the friendly confines of Apogee Stadium. North Texas hopes to take the success they’ve had at home with them to Hattiesburg.
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“We bring our own energy,” said safety Khairi Muhammad. “Don’t fall into the ‘if it’s a big crowd or if it’s a small crowd.’ Anybody can be beat. Nobody is invincible. We just got to execute our plan and we’ll be fine.”
North Texas goes into the game with the No. 1 ranked offense in the conference, while Southern Miss has the No.1 ranked defense. Something will have to give in this one.
“It will be a great matchup, our offense against their defense,” said head coach Seth Littrell. “I know they will have a lot of enthusiasm, having their week off and being ready to play. We are going to have to match that excitement.”
MR. WILSON: Senior running back Jeffery Wilson had a game to remember against UAB, rushing for a career-high 211 yards with a touchdown in the win. That performance was enough for him to be named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Wilson is off to a hot start and enjoying every minute of it.
“Every Saturday, every game that we play, it’s kind of like ‘oh, man, that’s my last one. I’ll never get that back,” Wilson said. “To have the season that we are having right now, obviously it’s not where we still want it to be, but the way it’s going, it’s a blessing and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Wilson continues to climb up the charts at North Texas. His 2,508 career rushing yards is fifth in school history. Wilson also ranks sixth in rushing touchdowns with 22.
“It’s an honor,” Wilson said. “This is a school where backs are tremendous. So, to see me go up on the stats, I’m in awe.”
However, the most memorable moment for Wilson in the win over UAB was seeing his father on the field afterwards.
“He came onto the field and gave me a hug and told me how proud he was,” Wilson said. “That was a moment that I will cherish forever.”
NO PRESSURE: Moore was named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week after converting on all four field goals, all four extra points and even recovered a fumble on the final play of the game against UAB. However, it was the field goal late in the game to give North Texas the win that stood out.
“It was pretty cool,” Moore replied. “It was my first game-winner I ever had. The only thing I’ve had that was close to that was last year at the Heart of Dallas Bowl putting it into overtime. It was cool and having all the guys celebrating and me doing my little celebration. It was one of those feelings I will never forget.”
Moore felt no pressure when he walked onto the field with seven seconds left in the game before nailing the 22-yard field goal.
“I had already kicked three field goals in that game so I was feeling pretty good,” Moore said. “I just went out there like it was just another kick. It was a big kick but you just have to stay calm and go out there and do what you’ve been doing for hours and hours, years and years of all the work you put in.”
Moore holds the school record for career field goal percentage at 76.5 percent. His current streak of 116 extra points made is also a school record.
MAKING AN IMPACT: Muhammad had eight tackles in the win over UAB and also deflected a pass that set up an interception by Kishawn McClain. The sophomore safety and DeSoto alum leads the team with 34 total tackles (19 solo) which is tied for seventh in the conference. He also has a sack to go along with a forced and recovered fumble.
What’s the secret to his success this season?
“Make the plays that come to me,” Muhammad replied. “Never get greedy. Never get over-excited. Make the play that comes to me.”
PARTING WAYS: Quarterback Devlin Isadore is no longer a member of the Mean Green football team. Isadore came to North Texas from Navarro Junior College with hopes off competing for the starting quarterback position. However, Mason Fine was named the starter, while former walk-on Quinn Shanbour earned the back-up job.
"He wasn't happy with his current situation here," Littrell said. "We had a meeting and mutually agreed that it was best if he moved on and looked for other opportunities. We worked very hard in creating a winning culture here. You’ve got to be a great teammate. You’ve got to be a selfless teammate. I’m not going to compromise for anybody."
NUMBER 500: The win over UAB on Saturday was the 500th career victory for the Mean Green football program. North Texas is now 500-499-33 as a program.