FAYETTVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Mason Fine threw for 281 yards and a touchdown to lead North Texas to its first win over a Southeastern Conference opponent in more than 40 years with a 44-17 victory over Arkansas on Saturday.
Fine completed 24 of 45 passes and also rushed for a score for the Mean Green, which won for the first time in 10 games against the Razorbacks and is 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 1989.
North Texas improved to 5-37 in its history against the SEC with the win, with two of those victories coming via forfeits after losses to Mississippi State in 1976 and 1977. The Mean Green’s last on-the-field win over an SEC team was a 21-14 victory at Tennessee in 1975.
“I don’t think it’s an upset,” North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. “We’re very confident as a football team.”
The defeat is Arkansas’ second straight against a non-Power 5 conference team, following last week’s defeat at Colorado State.
Cole Kelley started at quarterback for the Razorbacks (1-2) but was replaced by freshman Connor Noland in the third quarter after throwing his fourth interception of the game. Kelley finished 16-of-35 passing for 185 yards, and he, Noland and freshman John Stephen Jones combined to throw six interceptions in the loss.
“Disappointed,” Morris said. “We took a punch today, especially in the first half … I think they scored 17 points in 16 plays in the first half and just stunned us right there. We never could rally back.”
North Texas entered the game averaging 457.5 yards passing per game, tops in the country. The Conference-USA member Mean Green didn’t reach its average through the air on Saturday, but it outgained Arkansas 376-336 in total yardage.
WALK THIS WAY
Already ahead 7-0 in the first quarter, Keegan Brewer put North Texas up by two scores with a 90-yard punt return that started with a bit of cool and trickery.
After a 27-yard punt by Arkansas’ Blake Johnson, Brewer calmly caught the ball and walked slowly between Razorbacks defenders Nate Dalton and Grant Morgan. Brewer then sprinted down the left sideline for the touchdown, leaving many in Razorback Stadium wondering if he had called for a fair catch.
An official review showed that he hadn’t – with the touchdown staying on the board and the rout well on its way in Fayetteville.
“One of them actually asked me, ‘Why didn’t they blow the whistle,'” Brewer said. “I didn’t say anything … And as soon as he passed me, I knew it was go time.”
These are dark days at Arkansas, which is mired in its worst six-year stretch in more than 70 years. In addition to the immediate concern about whether the Razorbacks can win another game this season – with Tulsa the only non-SEC game remaining on the schedule – Morris is once again left looking for one quarterback to take command of the offense.
North Texas is at Liberty next week.
The Razorbacks travel to No. 7 Auburn.
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