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A Mean Green Halloween . . . . . Trick or Treat, it’s Gameday in Denton

BY MICHAEL LEESE

THE TRICK……The Rice Owls flew in on a five-game win streak, were undefeated in conference play, and leading the division.  They jumped out to a 16-7 lead in  the second quarter, when Taylor McHargue connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor, and Owls fans may have thought they had a Halloween treat in the bag. But the

Getting ready to paint the town green.

Getting ready to paint the town green.

Mean Green witches and wizards and ghouls (actually thousand of costumed North Texas  students) then cast a spell on the Owls.  On the next possession, Antoinne Jimmerson scored on a 42-yard run, closing the gap to 16-14.  Brelon Chancellor then added a 65-yard punt return to give North Texas a 21-16 halftime lead.

The spell continued to work its magic, as the Mean Green dominance continued in the second half.    Jimmerson hauled in a 46-yard scoring pass from Derek Thompson early in the third quarter, putting the Mean Green up 28-16.  Midway through the fourth quarter, North Texas closed out all hopes of any comeback by the Owls with an amazing goal-line  stand. The Owls had a first and goal from the three-yard line and were stopped on three straight downs. On fourth down, North Texas was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, resulting in another first and goal. Four plays later the Owls turned the ball over on downs, as McHargue was sacked for a 12-yard loss after scrambling like crazy.

Not mean, but Mean Green

Not mean, but Mean Green

The victory moved North Texas to 4-1 in a three-way tie for the West Division of Conference USA.

“That was a great example of character out there,” said North Texas coach Dan McCarney.  “It was just a fabulous effort by the whole team. It was a complete came, a complete victory.” The win moved the Mean Green to 6-3 on the season, and got North Texas fans thinking about their first bowl appearance since 2004.

“We’re not in a bowl yet, we’re just bowl eligible,” North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this is a major milestone.”

A LITTLE HISTORY……North Texas began playing football in 1913. In 2001 the school joined the FBS moving into the Sun Belt Conference. Prior to that they had won 21 conference championships playing in the Missouri Valley, Lone Star, Southern and Gulf Coast Conferences.

After the school joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, Darrell Dickey briefly revived fortunes in Denton, winning four

Past and future Mean Green players

Past and future Mean Green players

straight conference championships. The Mean Green played in the 2001 New Orleans Bowl despite a regular-season finish at 5-6 after winning the Sun Belt title with a 5-1 conference record. After going 2-9 and 3-9 in his eighth and ninth seasons, the athletic department fired Dickey.

The school then hired Todd Dodge, who had been offensive coordinator at UNT from 1991-1992. Dodge had been one of the nation’s most successful high school football coaches, amassing a 98-11 record overall at Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, including a 79-1 record over his last 5 years. His teams at UNT struggled to win, however, compiling a 6-37 record overall and a 3-23 record in conference play. After a 1-6 start to the 2010 season, the school fired Dodge. He was replaced by offensive coordinator Mike Canales as interim head coach. In 2011, the university hired Dan McCarney as head coach. Last year, North Texas accepted an invitation to move to  Conference USA. This is their inaugural season in the Conference.

North Texas played at Fouts Field from 1952 through 2010.  In 2011, $78-million Apogee Field opened. The stadium seats 30,850 and features  end zone seating that has the shape of Eagle wings. Record attendance was 28,075 for a contest versus Houston in September 2011. This cozy stadium is one of the best I in the country!

The Mean Green Band

The Mean Green Band

THESE GREATS PLAYED HERE……Five guys have their numbers retired. They are the following.

15 – Jerry McFadden (1988-1992)
28 – Abner Haynes (1957–59)
33 – Ray Renfro (1949–50)
55 – Richard Gill (1968–69)
75 – “Mean” Joe Greene (1966–69)

“Mean” Joe Greene is also a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame!

HAYDEN FRY Before he became the head coach at Iowa, Hayden Fry served as the head coach and athletic director at North Texas from 1973 to 1978.  During his time here, North Texas compiled a 40-23-3 record,including a 33-11 mark in his last four seasons.  In 1977, North Texas ended the season with an 11-1 mark, and ranked No.16

A LITTLE MEAN GREEN TRADITION……Boomer the Cannon,
Firing the cannon became a tradition in 1970 following Mean Green touchdowns.image The cannon, a scale replica of a model used in the U.S.-Mexican War, is also used at special campus events.

Colors  . . . . After a heated campus debate in 1902, the students chose green and white as the official school colors. According to a 1932 article in the Campus Chat student newspaper, green proponents believed that Mother Nature is kind to those who wear her colors.

Eagle . . . . In a 1922 campus election, students chose the eagle over the lion and the dragon as the mascot.

The Green Machine. . . . .The 1929 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan is driven at home football games, parades and other special occasions by the Talons spirit group. The vehicle was donated to UNT in 1974 by an alumnus .

Homecoming bonfire . . . . . The tradition to ward off evil football spirits by lighting a large bonfire the night before the

The Owls led until a spell was cast

The Owls led until a spell was cast

big game began in 1935.

“Mean Green” moniker . . . . .The nickname dates from the late 1960s, when spontaneous chants from the stands for the football team’s defense inspired the athletic department to refer to the “Mean Green Defensive Unit” in a press release.  Mean Joe Greene happened to be here at the time.

THE TREAT……The atmosphere at this beautiful new stadium was special. I realize a lot of that had to do with it being Halloween and thousands of students dressed for the occasion. The members of the entire marching band were dressed in various costumes. The fans here are very eager for a chance to go to a big bowl game. The Green Wave now is in control of their own destiny. If they win their remaining games they will play for the Conference USA Championship, and a berth in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

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