Mooney lifts UNT over UTEP 20-17

Photos by Dominic Ceraldi

Just when it looked like UNT had the momentum of Saturday’s game against UTEP snatched from its hands and appeared to possibly be on its way to a homecoming loss and having its bowl hopes dashed, three players came together to be sure those dire circumstances never came to fruition.
UTEP reeled off 10 straight points to tie the game with 55 seconds to play, and barring a miracle, overtime was a likely scenario.
That miracle came, in the form of a bomb from quarterback Austin Aune to freshman wide receiver Detraveon Brown that covered 58 yards and got the Mean Green to the UTEP 10-yard line with 10 seconds to play, setting up a game-winning 27-yard field goal from Ethan Mooney to give UNT a 20-17 win and a three-game winning streak.
“I’m pretty sure it was the exact same kick from the Middle Tennessee game in 2019, so I was pretty confident in it,” Mooney said, referring to the 22-yard game winner he kicked following a long pass from Mason Fine to Jaelon Darden to set the kick up with under 10 seconds to play. “Coach Petrilli came up and headbutted me full blast with my helmet on. Those celebrations take the energy out of you. I was pretty drained pretty quick – more than I was running perimeters with Coach Womack this summer.”
For Aune’s part, the sophomore signal-caller said he felt some pressure, rolled out of the pocket and saw Brown had beaten a gaggle of UTEP defensive backs.
“It was obvious getting out of the pocket that D-Brown ran a great route and got behind the guys,” Aune said. “I just threw it up and he did the rest. I just had to get it to him. It was a whole lot of fun doing it.”
After UTEP had fared well against the Mean Green rushing attack and led UNT 7-3 at halftime, the focus turned more to the passing game in the second half, and Aune finished the day with 240 yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Roderic Burns as part of a 14-point third quarter. His 240 yards was the second most for Aune on the season and the most in a win after he threw for 305 in a loss to Missouri.
“We’re the same team. We’ve had the same fight all year,” Aune said after the last-second victory to keep bowl eligibility hopes alive. “We just haven’t had things go our way. This a great group and they want to win and we’ll scratch and claw until we get wins. It’s a great group of guys and they’re really fun to play with.”
Head coach Seth Littrell echoed Aune’s sentiments and said the win streak is a product of young players getting more continuity and familiarity with one another after several injuries and other adversity throughout the year. The Mean Green fell to 1-6 after a six-game skid but are now 4-6 and 3-3 in Conference USA play with two games left at FIU and at home against UTSA.
“It’s really just a bunch of new guys getting more comfortable and getting more game reps, and the more they do the more they believe in themselves and get more confidence,” Littrell said. “It was a bunch of guys sticking together. Our chemistry is great. They’ve gutted through everything and they haven’t lost confidence in each other. I’m just proud of them. A lot of teams could’ve folded especially with all the adversity we faced earlier. I’m having a lot of fun coaching these guys.”

  • The Mean Green win extends the all-time series over UTEP to 19-8-3, with the first meeting coming in 1951.
  • The win brings the Mean Green’s all-time homecoming record to 50-24-1.
  • The win puts head coach Seth Littrell at 35-37 in his Mean Green tenure, and he is in sixth place on the program’s all-time wins list – behind fifth-place Hayden Fry (40). He moves to 5-1 in his career against UTEP.
  • The Mean Green win puts the program record at 23-13 in Apogee Stadium under head coach Seth Littrell. The Mean Green are 2-3 at home this season. One of Littrell’s 23 wins at Apogee was technically a road game when UTEP traveled to Denton last season for a Miner home game due to COVID-19 restrictions in El Paso.
  • The win gives UNT its first three-game winning streak since it won four straight to open the 2018 season.
    • Littrell’s longest winning streak is five games from 10/28-11/25/2017.
  • Sophomore QB Austin Aune (Argyle, Texas) made his sixth start of the season and finished
  • 15-for-33 for 240 yards and a touchdown while adding a rushing score. He also had eight carries for 44 yards.
    • Aune completed passes to six different receivers.
    • Aune’s 1-yard touchdown run with 11:22 left in the third quarter put North Texas up 10-7 and was the third rushing score of his career.
    • Aune’s 22-yard run early in the fourth quarter equaled his career-high rush.
  • Senior RB DeAndre Torrey (Gautier, Mississippi) had 61 rushing yards on 18 carries.
    • Torrey’s 6-yard run late in the third quarter put him over 3,000 rushing yards in his career to become the sixth player in program history to reach the 3,000-yard mark on the ground.
    • His 61 rushing yards puts him at 998 for the season, moving him up to 16th on the single-season rushing list, passing his own total from 2018 (977).
  • Freshman RB Isaiah Johnson (Lubbock, Texas) finished with 16 carries for 48 yards.
  • Freshman WR Detraveon Brown (Shreveport, La.) finished the day with two catches for 70 yards.
    • Brown’s 58-yard reception with 10 seconds remaining in the game set up the game-winning field goal and was the longest catch of his career.
    • Brown drew his first collegiate start for the Mean Green.
  • Sophomore WR Roderic Burns had five catches for 93 yards and a touchdown on the day.
    • Burns’ 25-yard touchdown reception with 6:48 left in the third quarter was his third of the season.
  • Senior TE Jason Pirtle (Locust Grove, Okla.) finished the day with five catches for 60 yards.
    • Pirtle tied his season high with five receptions for the second straight week and set a new season high with his 60 receiving yards.
    • Pirtle has a career-high 36 receptions for 320 yards on the season.
  • Junior LB KD Davis (Ennis, Texas) finished the day with seven tackles, including three solo stops, a half-tackle for-loss and three QB hurries.
  • Senior DL Dion Novil (Abilene, Texas) finished the day with seven tackles, including four solo stops, 2.5 tackles for-loss, a sack, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.
    • Novil’s sack on the Miners’ opening drive was the ninth of his career.
    • The 2.5 tackles for-loss is a season high for Novil.
  • Redshirt freshman DE Gabriel Murphy (Dallas) had six tackles on the day, including two solo stops, a sack, 1.5 tackles for-loss and a QB hurry. He has 12.5 TFL and 9.0 sacks in his career.
  • Redshirt freshman DE Grayson Murphy (Dallas) had three tackles, including a solo stop, 1.5 tackles for-loss and three QB hurries. He has 13.5 TFL in his career.
  • Sophomore LB Kevin Wood (Converse, Texas) finished the day with a team-high eight tackles, including two solo stops and an interception.
    • Wood’s interception with 8:47 left in the third quarter was the second of his career and first of the season.
  • Sophomore DB DeShawn Gaddie (Arlington, Texas) finished the day with seven tackles,
  • including five solo stops. The seven tackles his his career high.
  • Senior DL Kameron Hill (Fresno, Texas) finished the day with a sack and forced fumble.
    • His sack on the Miners’ opening possession was the 19th of his career.
    • He entered the day ranked 11th among active FBS players.
  • Freshman DB Ridge Texada (Frisco, Texas) made the start at cornerback – the third of his Mean Green career and third in as many weeks.
    • Texada started one game last year at McNeese State.
    • Texada had six tackles, including five solo stops and a pass breakup.
  • Junior kicker Ethan Mooney (Fort Worth) went 2-for-3 on his field goal attempts, including the 27-yard game-winner in the closing seconds.
    • Mooney is now 10-for-12 on field goals for the season and has made 33 field goals in his career.
    • It was the second career game-winner for Mooney after a 22-yard against MTSU in 2019.

Courtesy UNT Football