HBU Football: North Texas Holds Off Houston Baptist, 57-31

HBU Football: North Texas Holds Off Houston Baptist, 57-31

DENTON, Texas – HBU senior quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 39-of-62 passes for 480 yards and three touchdowns, but North Texas piled up 721 of total offense to pull away for a 57-31 victory in the season opener Saturday night at Apogee Stadium.

Zappe, a preseason FCS All-American, recorded the fourth-most completions, third-most attempts, and third-most yards of his career. He now holds all of HBU’s top-10, single-game slots in all three categories.

Senior wide receiver Ben Ratzlaff posted the sixth 100-yard game of his career with six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown for HBU (0-1). Junior Jerreth Sterns, the FCS’s receptions leader last year, made 11 catches for 93 yards, while his younger brother, freshman Josh Sterns, had two catches for 46 yards and a touchdown in his debut. Junior Jaylon Johnson added six catches for 40 yards and sophomore DJ Dormeus had five for 31 yards. Junior running back Ean Beek had 12 carries for 51 yards and made three receptions for 16 yards.

Senior linebacker Caleb Johnson recorded 12 tackles, while junior linebacker Brennan Young and sophomore safety Tra Fluellen each had eight. Patrick Wolfe added four stops and an interception, which was the lone turnover of the game.

Jason Bean completed 11-of-18 passes for 217 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception and also rushed three times for 48 yards and a touchdown for UNT (1-0), while Austin Aune completed 6-of-11 passes for 111 yards and a score. Oscar Adaway rushed five times for 118 yards and two touchdowns and DeAndre Torrey rushed 11 times for 85 yards. Isaiah Johnson added a rushing touchdown. Jaelon Darden made five catches for 71 yards and three touchdowns and Greg White had two catches for 76 yards and a score.

KD Davis led the Mean Green with nine tackles and a sack, while Larry Nixon III had six and four other players made five each.

HBU had 569 yards of offense and had the ball for 31:41 to lead in time of possession. UNT was nearly perfectly balanced with 360 yards on the ground and 361 yards passing. The Mean Green had 33 first downs, converting 11-of-17 third downs and 3-of-3 on fourth down, while the Huskies picked up 28 first downs, 8-of-18 on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down. HBU was penalized nine times for 78 yards and UNT was penalized six times for 48 yards.

The Mean Green took the opening kickoff and stuck early as Bean hit Darden for a 33-yard touchdown pass. The Huskies looked to answer when Zappe found Harrell for a 51-yard completion. After Jerreth Sterns rushed down to the six to set up third-and-three, Beek gained a yard, then LaDarius Turner was stuffed at the line to turn the ball over on downs.

UNT moved the ball 95 in eight plays, capped by Bean’s 32-yard touchdown to Greg White to give the Mean Green a 14-0 lead with 6:07 remaining in the first quarter.

After sophomore kicker, Gino Garcia missed a 43-yard field goal for HBU, UNT scored early in the second quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bean to Darden to lead 20-0.

HBU had the first punt of the game, but on UNT’s ensuing possession, Wolfe made a leaping one-handed interception to set the Huskies up at the 29-yard line. Zappe then found sophomore tight end Josh Alfaro for a 7-yard touchdown to put HBU on the board. The Huskies forced the first Mean Green punt of the game, but Garcia missed again, this time from 30 yards.

The teams traded field goals in the waning moments of the first half as Zach Williams connected from 30 yards out, then Garcia drilled a 50-yarder, his fourth from 50 yards or more in his career, as time expired to cut the Mean Green’s lead to 23-10.

UNT pulled away with a pair of long touchdown runs, first Bean from 37 yards, then Adaway for 35 yards with 7:08 to go in the third. Aune then connected with Darden for a six-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 43-10. HBU answered as Zappe led a drive down to the one, then redshirt freshman quarterback finished it off by plunging in for a touchdown.

In the fourth, Adway had a 47-yard run for a score, then Isaiah Johnson added a 16-yard run for a score and a 57-17 advantage.

HBU put up the last two scores of the game, with Zappe hooking up with Ratzlaff for a 71-yard touchdown, the seventh-longest play from scrimmage in HBU history with 9:36 remaining. Following a UNT, punt Zappe found Josh Sterns with a 38-yard touchdown strike for the final score with 5:36 left on the clock.

The Huskies return to action when they face Texas Tech in their first-ever matchup with an FBS opponent Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in Lubbock.

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