North Texas Opens With 40-6 Win Over Idaho
QB Derek Thompson Efficient, Effective In Season-Opening Win
Quarterback Derek Thompson threw for a career-high 349 yards against Idaho Saturday night. (photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON, Texas - Derek Thompson has spent two years fending off challengers for the Mean Green starting quarterback position, but his performance in Saturday night's 40-6 season-opening win over Idaho did nothing to diminish his grip on the job.
On a blisteringly hot night at Apogee Stadium, Thompson was efficient and accurate, completing his first seven passes, 12 of 15 in the first half, and 23 of 27 for the game for a career-high 349 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with eight different receivers, did not suffer an interception, and directed the North Texas offense to 40 unanswered points.
"What a great job of leading he did," North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. "You expect your senior quarterback to perform, and, boy, he did tonight."
Idaho got off to a quick start with a pair of big plays and a well-executed onside kick, and held a 6-0 lead. But North Texas began to take control when it stuffed a Vandal fourth-down run at the Mean Green 19.
From there, a balanced North Texas offense overwhelmed the Vandals. The Mean Green offensive line paved the way for the ground game, led by Brandin Byrd, Reggie Pegram and Antoinne Jimmersonto pile up 180 yards while allowing no sacks for the fourth-straight game, dating back to last season.
After surrendering the two early big plays, the North Texas defense clamped down on Idaho. Aaron Bellazin led a Mean Green pass rush that kept Vandals QB Chad Chalich on the run, and Zach Orr, Marcus Trice, and Laramie Lee combined for 21 tackles and three forced fumbles.
What They Said
"It does mean a lot to me and the players. The least we could do was play real, real hard, and we got a good win for them."
--Mean Green coach Dan McCarney, about the North Texas All-Century Team members in attendance Saturday night.
"It was really neat to see forced fumbles. It's something we took pride in this spring to work on. That's making plays on defense."
--North Texas linebacker Zach Orr, about the three turnovers the defense forced
"It felt great to be back. You can't take anything for granted. One play and it can be done."
--North Texas receiver Brelan Chancellor, about his first game back from last year's season-ending injury.
Game-time temperature was a scorching 103 degrees. But by halftime, it had cooled down to 100.
The Mean Green's 591 yards of total offense was the third most in school history.
After giving up no sacks Saturday night, North Texas has allowed just six sacks in its last 13 games.
Marcus Triceblocked Idaho's only PAT, the first kick block of his career.
The 85-yard first-quarter touchdown pass from Derek Thompson to Brelan Chancellorwas a career long for both quarterback and receiver. It was the longest Mean Green pass play since 2007, and the longest in Apogee Stadium's brief history.
Thompson completed his first seven passes of the game, and was good on 12 of his first 15 attempts in leading North Texas to a 26-6 halftime lead.
Chancellor's return from last year's season-ending injury was a welcome addition not only to the passing game but also to special teams. He had 283 all-purpose yards, including a 48-yard punt return, the second-best total in his career and the ninth highest in school history.
Idaho tried an onside kick and a fake punt in the first half, recovering the former but failing to gain a first down on the latter.
The Mean Green defense has had a renew emphasis on takeaways since defensive coordinator John Skladanyarrived last season, and North Texas forced three fumbles in the first half, recovering two.
Junior defensive back Laramie Lee forced one fumble and had two recovers - including of the ball he jarred loose. They were the first fumble recoveries of his career.
Reggie Pegram, a transfer from Purdue and cousin of former North Texas players Erric Pegram and Brandon Kennedy, scored the first touchdown of his Mean Green career in the third quarter.
This is the first time since 2006 and third time since 1996 that North Texas has started a season 1-0.
True freshman quarterback Dajon Williamstook the first snaps of his collegiate career, taking over with 8:57 left in the game and North Texas up, 40-6. Williams completed five of six passes for 55 yards.
North Texas wore their centennial helmets and uniforms Saturday in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the program's start. The centennial helmet was white, as were the North Texas helmets from the 1950s until 1967, emblazoned with the North Texas logo from 1973 to 1982, the iconic image known as "The Flying Worm." The jersey was in the style and shade of green of those worn in the 1960s, and the pants were white with a double green stripe down the sides. Click here to purchase the helmets and uniforms from the game via an online auction.
North Texas will travel to Athens, Ohio, next week to face the Ohio Bobcats. Ohio plays its season opener on Sunday against Louisville.