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Recap: North Texas falls to Louisiana Tech in final home game of the season

Recap: North Texas falls to Louisiana Tech in final home game of the season

Recap: North Texas falls to Louisiana Tech in final home game of the season
December 04
09:03 2020

In the 26-day delayed matchup from its original scheduling, North Texas (3-5, 2-4 Conference USA) dropped their fifth loss of the season to Louisiana Tech (5-3, 4-2 C-USA) in a 42-31 contest. The Bulldogs converted on key third down and fourth down plays offensively keeping their scoring drives alive, including taking advantage of North Texas’ 11 penalties for 82 yards.

Senior receiver Jaelon Darden had three receiving touchdowns and broke two school records in Thursday’s game. Darden surpassed former Mean Green receiver Ron Shanklin (1967-69) for the all-time career receiving touchdown leader at 34 and the single-season record at 15.

“We had our opportunities offensively and defensively to win the game but we have to make the plays,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “It’s more than just playing hard, you have to be able to execute and play smart. The penalties killed us tonight, and you won’t beat a team like [Louisiana Tech] making those kinds of mistakes.”

Coming into the short week of a conference matchup, North Texas looked to rebound from a 49-17 loss to UTSA Saturday. Louisiana Tech played its first game since Oct. 31 as the Bulldogs defeated Middle Tennessee 37-34 in double overtime.

North Texas opened the game with the first offensive possession, where sophomore quarterback Jason Bean threw an interception caught by senior Bulldogs linebacker Ezekiel Barnett.

Louisiana Tech took advantage of the turnover scoring on a five-yard jet sweep by sophomore receiver Smoke Harris.

The Mean Green offense responded by scoring two touchdowns on their next two possessions from a 13-yard touchdown pass to Darden and a one-yard rush to the endzone by senior running back DeAndre Torrey. North Texas led 14-7 through the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs’ offense racked up three touchdowns on their three possessions in the second quarter. Two of the three touchdowns came on junior running back Greg Garner and senior running back Israel Tucker scoring on goal-line rushes. Senior Louisiana Tech quarterback Luke Anthony found freshman receiver Kyle Maxwell for a 5-yard touchdown to close the half at 28-17.

In the drive resulting in Garner’s touchdown, the Bulldogs had a 7:32 time of possession scoring on 17 plays and 68 yards, including converting on three straight fourth-down scenarios.

Through the second half, both teams alternated scores. Louisiana Tech scored on a 6-yard jet sweep rushing touchdown and Tucker found the endzone on a 1-yard rush.

Darden caught two touchdown passes from Bean in the second half, one on a 33-yard score and a 10-yard score.

“We didn’t come out how we wanted to offensively but I loved how we fought at the end,” Darden said.

Trailing 42-31 with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter, senior safety Makyle Sanders intercepted Anthony with an opportunity for the offense to make it a one-score game.

The offense managed to drive 15 yards on seven plays, where junior kicker Ethan Mooney missed a 54-yard field goal attempt.

Louisiana Tech kept North Texas off the scoreboard in the final drive and closed out the 11-point victory.

“As a whole, I thought we played better defensively toward the end of the game,” junior linebacker KD Davis said. “We really needed to tackle better because their running backs were pinned on some plays but we just didn’t get them to the ground. The penalties we made [defensively] are something we need to learn from and just know the different game situations in order to avoid those mistakes.”

For total yards of offense, North Texas outgained Louisiana Tech 386 to 341. Louisiana Tech outrushed North Texas 183 to 155, with Israel leading the Bulldogs on 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Bean passed for three touchdowns for the second time this season, throwing for 17-of-30 attempts passing and 231 yards.

Senior running back Nic Smith led North Texas on the ground with 96 yards rushing on 16 carries.

“At the end of the day you have to make the plays and be in a good position to make them,” Littrell said. “A lot of times when we were in that position to make the big plays you just have to do it. That’s a part of the game and it’s a part of the execution.”

UP NEXT: North Texas will play its final game of the season against UTEP (3-4, 0-3 C-USA) on the road Saturday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m.. The Miners played their previous game against UTSA (7-4, 5-2 C-USA) on Nov. 14 and lost 52-21.

Featured Image: Redshirt senior Nic Smith protects the ball before being tackled by Louisiana Tech defenders on Dec. 3, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Preston Rios

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