North Texas Daily

UNT football overwhelms UNLV for first bowl win in 11 years

UNT football overwhelms UNLV for first bowl win in 11 years

UNT football overwhelms UNLV for first bowl win in 11 years
January 01
16:35 2014

Tim Cato / News Editor

It started with a few courageous students from the north end zone and grew into a steady stream of green, as fans joined the Mean Green in the center of the Cotton Bowl stadium to celebrate the first bowl win in more than a decade.

The UNT football team (9-4) overwhelmed the University of Nevada, Las Vegas 36-14 on Wednesday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and broke an 11-year bowl win drought.

“I dreamed of the day when I took this job that these seniors could go to a bowl game and win. I really dread the day that I have to say goodbye to them, but they’ll forever be remembered,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “We’ll cherish this season, we’ll cherish today, and every time I think about this football team, the first thing that will come to mind are these 22 seniors.”

The Mean Green offense started slowly with just one touchdown, set up after UNLV (7-6) fumbled a punt deep in its own territory. However, senior quarterback Derek Thompson – named Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP – took charge and led the Mean Green on three straight touchdown drives to open the second half despite leaving the game briefly with a knee injury in the first quarter.

“I stepped down wrong and my knee kind of twisted,” he said. “They taped it up and said ‘get back out there, it’s your senior year.’ I wasn’t going to be denied. I wasn’t going to stay off the field.”

Thompson finished 21-of-30 for 256 yards and two touchdown passes. The other offensive standout was senior receiver Brelan Chancellor, who caught six passes for 74 yards but made an even bigger impact running the ball with seven carries for 47 yards and two scores.

“I don’t mind running the ball or catching the ball,” Chancellor said. “All that matters to me is doing whatever I can to win the game.”

Chancellor broke the single-season all-purpose yards record for UNT with 1,964, passing former Mean Green running back Lance Dunbar.

The game started with the Rebels offense marching down the field with ease, going 95 yards with just one third down and finishing with a nine-yard touchdown pass.

Sophomore defensive back Kenny Buyers and junior defensive back James Jones team up to take down a UNLV ball carrier. Photo by Harris Buchanan, Staff Photographer.

Sophomore defensive back Kenny Buyers and junior defensive back James Jones team up to take down a UNLV ball carrier. Photo by Harris Buchanan, Staff Photographer.

But after UNLV scored on that opening drive, the UNT defense settled down and shut out the Rebels until late in the final quarter, just missing the sixth second half shutout this season.

“It’s the first time we played a football game in over a month,” senior linebacker Zach Orr said. “I felt like the first drive where they drove 95 yards on us, we were kind of playing on our heels and not playing Mean Green defense. We were just telling the guys to settle in and [to] play our style of football.”

The Heart of Dallas Bowl announced the attendance at 38,380, the most in the bowl’s history.

The Mean Green had not attended a bowl game since 2004 and had not won since 2002, both times at the New Orleans Bowl. The team won nine games in the season for the fifth time in school history.

Additional reporting done by John Lugo, Sports Editor.

Feature photo: Junior defensive back Brendan Campbell kisses the Heart of Dallas Bowl trophy as the Mean Green celebrate on its 36-14 victory of UNLV at the Cotton Bowl. Photo by Ryan Vance, Staff Photographer.

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