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UNT football team overcomes 18-point deficit

UNT football team overcomes 18-point deficit

Senior running back Brandin Byrd finds an opening on a rushing attempt. Photo by Ryan Vance / Intern Photographer.

UNT football team overcomes 18-point deficit
September 14
19:22 2013

Tim Cato, Sports Editor and Brett Medeiros, Senior Staff Writer

Trailing by 18 points in the second quarter, the UNT football team fought back to beat Ball State University in a 34-27 victory at Apogee Stadium and improved to 2-1 for the first time since 1994.

Senior quarterback Derek Thompson led the comeback for the Mean Green and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 26-yard scamper with 9:47 left in the fourth quarter – UNT’s first lead of the game.

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen him run, in a game or in practice,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “It was a great play on his part.”

Thompson finished 31 of 47, with 274 yards and a touchdown through the air, but he said the win was a culmination of the offense, defense and special teams.

“In the second half we started playing better,” Thompson said. “When you put all three of those together, good things will happen.”

After allowing several big plays in the first half, UNT’s defense did not allow Ball State to score after halftime and forced five turnovers throughout the game. The Cardinal offense was ranked No. 21 in the nation in scoring coming into the game.

“We got together on the sidelines and said to each other we had to start fighting,” senior linebacker Zach Orr said. “We saw everything we expected out of them, but we just came out in the second half and shut them out.”

The defense’s five takeaways is a season-high. Orr led the team with 11 tackles and sophomore cornerback Kenny Buyers contributed nine tackles in his first collegiate start. Another standout was junior safety Lairamie Lee, finishing with four tackles, an interception and a forced fumble

“He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” McCarney said. “He’s relentless, he’s physical and he takes great pride in that.”

The Mean Green fell behind three minutes into the first quarter. Ball State scored on its opening drive – the third straight week for a Mean Green opponent – and sophomore running back Horactio Nelson added a 77-yard touchdown six minutes later to put the Cardinals up 13-3.

Sophomore kicker Zach Paul converted on four of four kicks in his debut as the UNT field goal kicker, including a 48-yard kick in the first quarter. He replaced senior Zach Olen, who missed a critical field goal in last week’s 27-21 loss to the University of Ohio.

For the first time ever, the Mean Green starts a season 2-0 at Apogee Stadium. Next week, the team will leave its home territory to face the University of Georgia on Saturday at 11:21 a.m.

Box score

Photo: Senior running back Brandin Byrd finds an opening on a rushing attempt. Photo by Ryan Vance / Intern Photographer.

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