The North Texas defense stuffs Ohio at the line in the first half Saturday night. (photo by David Pyke)
NT-Ohio Box Score
ATHENS, Ohio - North Texas rallied from 14 points down in the second half but couldn't put the finishing touch on a game that slipped away to Ohio in the final minutes, 27-21.
The Bobcats delivered two haymakers in the first half - a game-opening 75-yard touchdown pass and a 40-yard interception return - that gave Ohio a 21-7 halftime lead. But the Mean Green calmly, methodically battled back in the second half.
North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson, shrugging off his first interception of the year, threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Harris in the third quarter. After Mean Green defensive back Kenny Buyers came up with his first interception of the season, Thompson connected with Darnell Smith four times for 56 yards, including a six-yard, game-tying touchdown. Smith finished the game as the Mean Green's leading receiver with nine catches for 89 yards.
But Ohio, a bowl winner the last two years, answered with a pair of long drives, both ending in field goals and eating much of the final eight minutes of the game.
North Texas had multiple chances earlier in the game to score, but several first-half drives fizzled in Ohio territory. In the second half, the Mean Green came up with what appeared to be a huge interception by Marcus Trice, who returned the gall to the Bobcat 20 only to have it jarred loose at the 18, where Ohio recovered. The Mean Green had four turnovers on the night.
The Mean Green could not move on its final two possessions after the Ohio field goals, the last hope ending on a tipped-ball interception to seal the game.
What They Said
"Take care of the football, take care of the football, take care of the football. We didn't do that."
--North Texas coach Dan McCarney on what he preaches to his team.
"We had some critical errors and big mistakes in the first half. We came back in the second half. There's a lot of character on this team. You see guys making plays, and that's what I'm proud of."
-McCarney on the Mean Green's second-half comeback
"He's so determined to be a player on this team and have a great senior year."
--McCarney on North Texas receiver Darnell Smith
• Sophmore wide receiver Carlos Harris has seen his impact on the offense increase. Saturday, he caught a 31-yard toss from Derek Thompson for the second touchdown of his career, and had three catches for 55 yards.
• Defensive back Kenny Buyers had his first interception of his career, and it came at a crucial moment. North Texas had drawn within 21-14 when Ohio began to drive, aided by an interference penalty. But Buyers picked off Ohio's Tyler Tettleton and returned the ball 22 yards.
• North Texas was 0-of-7 on third-down conversions in the first half. They were 2-of-2, however, on fourth-down conversions.
• Brelan Chancellor had another strong night, with a 27-yard punt return, a 28-yard kickoff return, a 33-yard pass reception. He also ran the wildcat offense when North Texas picked up a crucial first down on its first-jalf scoring drive.
• North Texas stopped an Ohio fourth-down attempt early in the third quarter when the Bobcats were driving to for a game-icing touchdown. Ryan Boutwell led the defensive surge.
• Saturday's crowd was 24,511, the fifth largest in Peden Stadium history.
• When Ohio took the field to start the game, they were accompanied by their mascot on a motorcycle. Unfortunately, the bike clipped the heel of Ohio's Tim Edmond and sent him sprawling. Fortunately, he was not injured.
• North Texas will return home next Saturday when they host Ball State at 2:30 p.m. at Apogee Stadium.