DENTON, Texas (10/22/11) - The North Texas football team won its third straight home game with a 38-21 win against ULM on Saturday night at Apogee Stadium.
The Mean Green improves to 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the Sun Belt, while the Warhawks fall to 2-4 and 1-2 in the conference. ULM leads the overall series, 15-13, but North Texas holds the advantage at home, 9-5.
After entering half with the game tied at 14-14, North Texas scored 24 points in the second half to win its third home of the season. The Mean Green is now 3-1 at home for the first time since 2004.
"We have had some ups and downs, some positives and negatives this season, but I am so proud of this coaching staff and this football team," said North Texas head coach Dan McCarney. "This was a big step for our program, a very big win over Louisiana-Monroe. I am very proud of this football team. This team is starting to turn the corner."
A couple defensive plays at the end of the fourth quarter broke open the game for the Mean Green. Brandon Akpunku sacked the ULM quarterback and forced a fumble at the 20-yard line with 5:22 left in the game. Julian Herron scooped up the bouncing ball and ran into the endzone to extend the Mean Green lead to 31-21.
On ULM's next offensive drive, Brad Graham picked off Cody Wells at the North Texas 37-yard line. It was Graham's second interception of the season. Lance Dunbar then broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run to the seal the 38-21 victory.
With his late rush, Dunbar finished the game with 139 rushing yards for his 20th 100-yard rushing performance, which is one behind Patrick Cobbs for the most in school history. With his 14-yard catch in the second quarter, Dunbar became just the 25th player in NCAA history to rack up 3,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards.
After not scoring a passing touchdown in each of the past two games, the North Texas offense awoke to tally 332 passing yards and three touchdowns against ULM. North Texas racked up 459 yards of total offense on the Warhawks, which are the most by a ULM opponent in 2011.
Quarterback Derek Thompson eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the first time in his career. He piled up 332 yards on 23 of 39 passing. Thompson also notched a career high in completions (23) and tied a career high in touchdown passes (3).
Chris Bynes caught two of those touchdown passes. His first TD catch tied the game at 14 in the second quarter and his second was a grab across the middle that put North Texas ahead, 21-14 lead in the third quarter. Bynes caught a career-high five passes in the first half alone and finished the day with a career-best eight catches for 85 yards.
Brelan Chancellor caught the first touchdown pass from Thompson in the game, a 40-yard reception that tied the game at 7 with 6:22 left in the first quarter. The pass from Thompson capped a five-play 68-yard drive. It was Chancellor's first career receiving touchdown and his first 100-yard receiving game. The sophomore caught a career-best five passes for 113 yards.
ULM took the lead on the opening kick-off as Luther Ambrose ran the ball back 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the first time this year that the Mean Green has allowed a kick return for a touchdown.
After the Chancellor touchdown, ULM regained the lead, 14-7, with 1:01 left in the first with a 15-yard run by Centarius Donald.
After ULM tied the game with an eight-yard touchdown run, Zach Olen gave North Texas its second lead of the game, 24-21, with a 46-yard field goal at 1:29 in the third quarter.
Akpunku's fourth-quarter sack gave him 17 in his career, which passes Brandon Kennedy for seventh in NT history. The Mean Green defense has now scored a touchdown in back-to-back home games.
Tevinn Cantly got his hand on a third-quarter ULM field goal attempt for his second career blocked kick.
North Texas returns to action on Saturday, October 29 when it faces Arkansas State on the road at 6 p.m.