Mean Green Defense Comes Through in the Clutch to Assure Win Over Monarchs

ODU Win 10-28-2017

The North Texas (5-3 4-1) defense came up big in the fourth quarter allowing the Mean Green to keep control over its destiny of the West Division of Conference USA. The Old Dominion Monarchs (2-6 0-4) failed to convert three key fourth downs in the fourth quarter preventing the upset of the Mean Green.

 Scores by Quarter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Score
Old Dominion (2-6) 10 13 15 0 38
North Texas (5-3) 14 21 0 10 45

Rico Bussey Jr. Becomes Third Receiver to Hit 100 Yard Mark

Sophomore Rico Bussey, Jr. lead the Mean Green Receiving Corp with seven receptions for 111 yards with a long of 34 yards and a touchdown. The 111 yards against Old Dominion and seven receptions was a career best for Bussey. So far in the 2017 season, he has three touchdowns.

Opponent Player Yards Touchdowns
SMU Jalen Guyton 109 2
Southern Miss Jalen Guyton 211 1
UTSA Jalen Guyton 182 2
FAU Michael Lawrence 112 0
Old Dominion Rico Bussey, Jr. 111 1

Mason Fine

Mason Fine moved to just 21 yards away from moving into 7th place. For the Season, he has 2,388 which is good enough for a tie with Giovanni Vizza at 9th place in the Single Season Passing Yards category. There are four regular season games left and if Fine continues to post on average 300 yards per game, he potentially will finish with 1,200 more yards putting him around 3,500 yards.

However, North Texas currently sits in first place for the West Division which means they play a 13th game for the Conference USA Championship. While no win is assured, there’s a fair chance that North Texas can win at least two, more likely three, games out their final four games left on their schedule. A seven win season should be more than enough wins to get into a bowl game giving the Mean Green its fourth game of the season and one final chance to add to his career stats possibly putting him north of 4,000 yards for the season giving him a healthy lead at first place in the Single Season Passing Yards category.

Single Season Passing Yards
Place Player Season Passing Yards
1 Mitch Maher 1994 3,103
2 Derek Thompson 2013 2,896
3 Steve Ramsey 1969 2,828
4 Giovanni Vizza 2008 2,758
5 Derek Thompson 2012 2,649
6 Mitch Maher 1993 2,595
7 Steve Ramsey 1968 2,516
8 Scott Davis 1988 2,409
9T Mason Fine 2017 2,388
9T Giovanni Vizza 2007 2,388


Career Passing Yards
Place Player Seasons Total Yards
1 Mitch Maher 1991-94 8,519
2 Derek Thompson 2009-13 7,447
3 Steve Ramsey 1967-69 7,076
4 Scott Davis 1987-90 6,923
5 Scott Hall 2000-04 5,975
6 Giovanni Vizza 2007-08 5,146
7 Jason Mills 1994-97 3,981
8 Mason Fine 2016-Present 3,960
9 Vidal Carlin 1965-66 3,233
10 Riley Dodge 2008-10 3,187

Defense Steps Up to Help Pull Out The Win

It’s well known that the defense has struggled at times but came through in crunch time with the game on the line. At the start of the 4th quarter, North Texas was down 38-35.

Final four Old Dominion offensive series:

  • Fumble
  • Turnover on Downs
  • Turnover on Downs
  • Turnover on Downs

First Series

Tillman Johnson forced a fumble on a quarterback sack that LaDarius Hamilton recovered on the ODU 23 yard line. The turnover resulted in a 23 yard Trevor Moore field goal.

Second Series

Old Dominion got the ball with 10:45 on the clock and started driving when the defense forced a 4th and 1 near midfield on the ODU 48. Senior Defensive End Andy Flusche and Junior Defensive Tackle Roderick Young tackled Running Back Jeremy Cox for no gain forcing a turnover on downs. The Mean Green scored on the ensuing drive on a 20 yard run by Nic Smith.

Third Series

Old Dominion started its third series with 4:26 left on the clock on its own 36 yard line. The Mean Green Defense again forced a fourth down and Senior Defensive Back Dee Baulkman broke up a pass to Melvin Vaughn forcing another turnover on downs. North Texas ended up going three-and-out and punted the ball to the ODU 23 yard line.

Final Series

On the Monarch’s final time to possess the football for the game, the Mean Green forced a three-and-out. It was 4th and 1 on the ODU 32 and the Monarch’s called up a running play with a hand-off to Jeremy Cox, who was tackled by LaDarius Hamilton and Roderick Young for no gain forcing a third consecutive turnover on downs.

North Texas took control of the ball one final times at the ODU 32 yard line. North Texas got one critical first down and then was able to wind the clock down to 0:00 to win the game.

Special Teams are an Adventure

Special Teams continue to make things interesting for the Mean Green. Old Dominion managed not one but two kickoff returns for a touchdown — the first for 97 yards and the second 98 yards. The two kickoff returns allowed the Monarchs to stay in the game since their offense struggled to find the end zone.

On the punting side, the Mean Green managed not one but two blocked punts — Dee Baulkman and Taylor Robinson. One of those blocked punts was returned 40 yards by Evan Johnson for a touchdown.

Needless to say, there are some things that need to be cleaned up for the next game if North Texas wants to continue to lead the West Division and play for a possible Conference USA Championship.

Media Coverage

Mean Green Sports Recap

Denton Record Chronicle

North Texas Daily

Post Game Press Conference

Highlight Reel

2017 C-USA Standings

Florida Atlantic 4-0 5-3
Florida Intl 3-1 5-2
Marshall 3-1 6-2
Western Kentucky 3-2 5-3
Middle Tennessee 1-3 3-5
Charlotte 1-3 1-7
Old Dominion 0-4 2-6
North Texas 4-1 5-3
UAB 3-2 5-3
Southern Mississippi 3-2 5-3
UT San Antonio 2-2 5-2
Louisiana Tech 2-2 4-4
Rice 1-3 1-7
UTEP 0-4 0-8

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