Ruston, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Thompson threw for 221 yards and a touchdown and ran for a another score to lead the North Texas Mean Green over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 28-13, in a Conference USA matchup at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Brelan Chancellor caught five passes for 95 yards and a score for the Mean Green (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) while Darnell Smith added four catches for 50 yards. Brandin Byrd ran the ball 14 times for 71 yards and a touchdown and Antoinne Jimmerson rushed for 50 yard on 14 carries.
For the Bulldogs (2-5, 1-2), Ryan Higgins finished with 343 yards on 36-of-54 passing and rushed for a score while throwing two interceptions. Andrew Guillot pulled in 10 passes for 99 yards. Kenneth Dixon carried the ball 12 times for just 25 yards.
Midway through the first quarter, the Bulldogs got on the board first. After the defense intercepted Thompson at the North Texas 28-yard line, the offense needed just five plays to put the ball in the end zone, with Higgins rushing it in from two yards out to put the visitors ahead 7-0 with 7:50 to play in the quarter.
After the Bulldogs tacked on a 40-yard field goal late in the second quarter to extend their lead to 10-0, the Mean Green responded with two quick scores in less than two minutes to take the lead into halftime. First, they marched 86 yards in just five plays to make the score 10-7 with 3:53 left in the half, the big play coming on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Chancellor. Then on the next Bulldog possession, Zac Whitfield picked off Higgins and ran it back 56 yards to give the home squad a 14-10 lead at the break.
The third quarter was all Mean Green. First, Thompson took it in for a three- yard touchdown run midway through the third. That drive started in Louisiana Tech territory after a strong defensive stand and the offense took it 43 yards in four plays to extend their lead to 21-10. After another defensive stop by the Mean Green, their offense moved the ball 66 yards and took a 28-10 lead on Byrd's one-yard rush with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs could manage only a 35-yard field goal early in the fourth as their only scoring in the half. A late drive by Louisiana Tech ended when Higgins was intercepted on 2nd-and-goal at the 10-yard line.
The Mean Green win gave them their first back-to-back wins since 2004 when Mean Green defeated Idaho and Arkansas State to conclude regular season. North Texas has played 102 games since that Arkansas State victory and has not had two consecutive wins during that span. After having just 72 yards of total offense in the first quarter and 173 for the first half, the Mean Green exploded for 155 yards in the decisive third quarter.