Giving ball to Wilson pays off

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North Texas running back Jeffrey Wilson, left, carries the ball against Rice on Saturday in Houston.

HOUSTON — North Texas fed Jeffrey Wilson the ball over and over again Saturday night in its game against Rice.

The Mean Green figured that strategy would pay off eventually.

That is exactly what happened in UNT’s 42-35 double-overtime win over the Owls at Rice Stadium.

Wilson finished with 157 yards and three touchdowns after managing just 19 yards on eight carries in the first half.

“The first half was rough, but my teammates told me to keep my head up,” Wilson said. “My linemen blocked their tails off.”

Wilson took advantage, breaking off a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He also scored on a 5-yard run in the first overtime period that extended the game.

The more Wilson carried the ball, the more he wore down Rice’s defense.

“Wilson came out and had a really, really good second half,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said. “They were doing a lot of things up front, twisting and slanting, which kind of muddled up our inside zone, so we ended up hitting the perimeter more.”

That strategy paid off for the speedy Wilson, who continues to shine in his junior season.

Wilson entered the game with 195 rushing yards on the season and nearly doubled that total Saturday.

“Jeffrey is a beast,” UNT quarterback Mason Fine said. “He ran hard and ran with passion. You couldn’t ask for a better running back, or running backs than the ones we have.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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