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Troy QB Silvers slices up North Texas' secondary

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS — North Texas seemed to be in an advantageous position defensively in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Troy was without one of the best running backs in program history in Jordan Chunn due to injury and lost wide receiver Deondre Douglas in the first quarter.

The Trojans still had quarterback Brandon Silvers, though. The senior was more than enough to give UNT's defense that has been up and down all season fits in a 50-30 loss.

Silvers torched UNT for 305 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing 24 of his 31 attempts on his way to earning MVP honors.

"They are a good offense," UNT coach Seth Littrell said. "You get back on your heels, even if it is just a little bit, and they start making plays and moving the chains."

That is exactly what happened to UNT in a second straight tough game for the Mean Green's defense.

Florida Atlantic beat the Mean Green 41-17 in the Conference USA title game.

The Mean Green hoped to bounce back and play better defensively in their bowl game, but struggled instead against a shorthanded Troy team.

Backup running back Josh Anderson rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns while filling in for Chunn. The Trojans also had two receivers finish with more than 100 receiving yards.

Damion Willis caught 11 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, while Tevaris McCormick added five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

UNT managed to get to Silvers for only one sack.

"They do a lot of their things with their offense to keep you on your toes," UNT linebacker Joshua Wheeler said. "We needed to make it count when we brought pressure and didn't."

Troy hit UNT for several big plays that turned momentum in the Trojans favor.

Anderson broke free for a 55-yard run in the first quarter to set up Silvers' 7-yard touchdown strike to Willis

McCormick caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Silvers in the third quarter.

UNT's defense came up with a couple of big plays. Linebacker Colton McDonald returned an errant snap 56 yards for a touchdown and safety Kishawn McClain intercepted a pass in his final game with the Mean Green.

Those big plays weren't nearly enough to slow down Troy and Silvers in a tough game for the Mean Green.

UNT gave up at least 40 points in six games this season, but it also had a few solid outings. The Mean Green's defense gave up only a field goal in a win against UTEP and also limited Rice to a touchdown.

"We just got beat on big plays," McClain said. "When the ball is in the air you have to make plays on the ball. We came up short in the secondary."

Quick hits

• Troy and UNT played without several of their top players in the New Orleans Bowl.

UNT was without its leading rusher Jeffery Wilson. The senior rushed for 1,215 yards in 11 games before going down for the season with a foot injury he suffered in a win against Army on Nov. 18.

Troy was without cornerback Blace Brown and safety Kris Weatherspoon in addition to Chunn heading into the game. Brown, Weatherspoon and Chunn were injured in Troy's win over Arkansas State in the Trojans regular season finale.

Troy coach Neal Brown credited running back Josh Anderson for playing a key role in helping the Trojans win without those players. The senior rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

• Trevor Moore finished his college career without missing an extra point. The senior came in having connected on all 151 of his attempts and connected on three more in the Mean Green's loss to Troy.

Moore also kicked a 24-yard field goal and set a new UNT record by making 20 field goals in a season. Keith Chapman made 19 in the 1989 season.

• UNT became the first team to score more than 25 points against the Trojans this season.

• Fine cleared the 4,000-yard mark in passing yards this season against Troy. The sophomore threw for 303 against the Trojans, pushing his season total to 4,052. He also extended his school record for touchdown passes in a season to 31 after throwing three against the Trojans.

Fine also moved into sole possession of first place in UNT history with eight 300-yard passing games. The sophomore broke a tie with Derek Thompson, the MVP of UNT's win against UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the 2013 season. Both Fine and Thompson had seven 300-yard passing games heading into the day.