Another Slow Start Dooms Mean Green In 56-13 Loss
North Texas Falls Behind 21-0, Cannot Rally Against Louisiana Tech
RUSTON, LA - North Texas has been out-scored 101-6 in the opening period this season, and that disastrous trend continued to leave its inevitable results Saturday on a cold, rain-drenched afternoon.
The Mean Green fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter to Louisiana Tech, the fifth time in nine games NT has trailed by double digits in the first 15 minutes this year, en route to a 56-13 defeat. North Texas lost three fumbles in the first half and was out-gained 573-316.
"You can't have turnovers," North Texas head coach Mike Canales said. "If we take care of the ball maybe it's a 7-7 or 14-7 game. They did a nice job keeping us from running the ball, but the big part was the turnovers. They're a good football team, and you can't do that against a good football team."
Any momentum from last week's emotional 30-23 victory over UT-San Antonio was as insubstantial as a sand castle at high tide, pounded by waves of Louisiana Tech big plays on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs (7-3 on the year at 5-1 in Conference USA) rolled up 200 yards in the first quarter while allowing the Mean Green (1-8, 1-5) just 46, and the total-offense margin was 509-199 at the end of the third quarter.
Doing most of the damage was Bulldog running back Kenneth Dixon, who shredded the Mean Green to the tune of 195 yards and six touchdowns, the most TDs by a Football Bowl Subdivision player this season and the most in Conference USA history. The performance moved Dixon into second place in NCAA history with 81 career touchdowns, trailing only Monte Ball of Wisconsin on the all-time list.
However, NT trailed just 7-0 and was in business when it drove into Bulldog territory and appeared to earn a first down on run by quarterback DeMarcus Smith to the Louisiana Tech 20-yard line. But a penalty wiped out the play and pushed North Texas out of field goal range, forcing North Texas to punt. The snap sailed over punter Blake Macek, Louisiana Tech recovered and returned the loose ball for a touchdown, and the rest of the game simply melted away in the steady, chill downpour as the Mean Green never again threatened the Bulldog lead.
What They Said
"They're a big, strong football team that has great speed, and we don't. We're going to have to develop to give ourselves a chance in this conference."
--North Texas coach Mike Canales on Louisiana Tech's physical advantage over the Mean Green
• Zac Whitfield had his second interception of the year and the ninth of his career. He needs one more to become the eighth player in school history with 10 interceptions for a career.
• Tre Johnson notched his second-straight punt return of more than 30 yards with a 37-yard return in the second-quarter. Johnson also had a 53-yard kickoff return, the longest of the year for NT.
• Turner Smiley caught his first touchdown of the season and second of his a career with a five-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
• North Texas had a season-high three fumbles on the day and finished the game tying a season-high with four turnovers.
• North Texas forced a first-quarter fumble, marking the first time this season NT has had turnovers in back-to-back games.
• North Texas trailed at halftime for the ninth-straight game this season.
• North Texas failed to score a first-quarter touchdown for the ninth-straight game this season, and hasn’t in 10-straight games dating back to 2014.
• The Mean Green dropped its 11th-straight road game dating back to 2013.
North Texas returns to Knoxville for the first time since its 1975 upset of Tennessee to face the Volunteers next Saturday, Nov. 14. Game time is 11 a.m.