North Texas (1-0, 0-0 Conference USA) beat Northwestern State (0-1, 0-0 Southland) Saturday night by a score of 44-14 in their season opener behind a rushing attack and four forced turnovers.
The game saw the first collegiate start of sophomore quarterback Jace Ruder, who transferred into North Texas from the University of North Carolina. Ruder accumulated a touchdown on 131 yards through the air and two interceptions in the contest.
Senior running back DeAndre Torrey opened the night’s scoring with a 24-yard rushing touchdown. Torrey would add two more touchdowns and rush for 244 yards on the night, leading the Mean Green offense.
“[Torrey’s performance] doesn’t surprise me,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “[Torrey] works at it extremely hard–not only out on the field but in the film room, understanding what [North Texas] is trying to do offensively.”
North Texas’ defense — who finished last in FBS for total defense in 2020, forced four turnovers in defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s North Texas debut. The Mean Green forced five fumbles on the night, recovering three and added an interception in the third quarter by senior safety Makyle Sanders.
“[The confidence of the defense] is pretty good,” Sanders said. “[North Texas] has a staff that knows what they’re talking about, and just trusting that system is big. Just brings us the confidence we have right now.”
The second quarter was the highest-scoring quarter of the game. Northwestern State scored 14 in the quarter to North Texas’ 17, making the score going into the locker rooms 24-14.
The second half opened with the second interception of Ruder’s night, but a forced fumble and recovery by the Mean Green prevented any damage from being done.
Ruder and the offense would capitalize from the turnover as the quarterback found junior receiver Roderic Burns 24 yards down the seam for the touchdown. It was the first time both players have scored for North Texas.
“[throwing his first touchdown pass for North Texas] was awesome,” Ruder said. “[Roderic Burns] made a heck of a catch.”
After Ruder’s touchdown pass, North Texas would add ten more points in the game, coming from senior kicker Ethan Mooney’s field goal and sophomore running back Isaiah Johnson’s rushing touchdown.
Even after a big opening day victory, Littrell insists that his team has a lot of room to grow.
“Proud of our guys, I told them in the locker room,” Littrell said. “We have a lot to clean up, we’re not where we need to be right now, and we don’t have to be. We’re not the team we want to be right now, but there’s a lot we can clean up.”
North Texas travels to Dallas on Sept. 11 to take on Southern Methodist University (1-0, 0-0 AAC) at 6:00 p.m. The Mustangs beat North Texas 65-35 last season.
Courtesy UNT Football