LAFAYETTE, La. (10/10/09) - North Texas let momentum slip away and couldn't stop Louisiana-Lafayette in the closing minutes, falling to the Ragin' Cajuns, 38-34, on Saturday night.
North Texas (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt) led by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter thanks to a dominating performance from Lance Dunbar, but the Ragin' Cajuns (3-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) got two fourth-quarter scores, including the game-winning 4-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining.
Dunbar piled up 187-rushing yards and four touchdowns, which are the most by a North Texas player since Jamario Thomas had four against Idaho in 2004. Three of those touchdowns and 71 yard came in the second quarter alone.
Leading by three points with a minute on the clock, the North Texas defense forced a fourth-and-five at the NT 33-yard line. Instead of kicking the game-tying field goal, the Cajuns opted to go for the win. Chris Masson's pass sailed over the head of his receiver, but a controversial defensive holding penalty gave ULL a new set of downs. Four plays later, Louisiana-Lafayette punched in for the go-ahead touchdown.
Riley Dodge was effective, but he and the Mean Green offense had a tough time getting out of their own way in the first half. North Texas turned the ball over four times in an 11-minute span, including an interception and a blocked punt that were both returned for touchdowns.
The freshman quarterback completed 24-of-38 passes for 209 yards, but threw three interceptions.
Despite the hiccups, North Texas still held a 444-295 advantage in total yards, and a 35:07-24:53 edge in time of possession. Until the final seconds, NT was able to keep up with the Ragin' Cajuns punch for punch.
With North Texas down 10 points in the second, Dunbar scored on a quick 37-yard scamper to narrow the gap, and then capped off an 80 yard drive with a 1-yard dive to tie the game at 24-apeice with 2:01 on the second-half clock.
The turnovers put the North Texas defense in a tough spot, but the squad responded well when backed into a corner. ULL twice started drives inside the Mean Green 33-yard line, but the NT defense still only allowed two offensive touchdowns and 58 passing yards in the opening half.
Two of North Texas' four losses have now come in the closing minutes. NT lost to Ohio in double overtime back in week two.
North Texas returns to action at Fouts Field next Saturday for Homecoming against Florida Atlantic. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.