LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (9/20/03) -- Three costly North Texas second-quarter turnovers were converted into Arkansas scores as the No. 14-ranked Razorbacks downed the Mean Green, 31-7, in a non-conference game Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium.
North Texas, which has never defeated Arkansas in the teams' eight-game series, tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter before Arkansas (3-0) converted an interception and two fumble recoveries into 17 of 24 second-quarter points to break the game open.
The loss drops the Mean Green to 1-3 as North Texas now focuses on the start of conference play and the defense of its 2002 Sun Belt Conference crown. The Mean Green host Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturda6y (7:00 p.m. kickoff) at Fouts Field.
"I felt like we were ready to play, but we gave them great field position on two straight series in the second quarter," said North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey. "We're making too many mistakes offensively . We had those three turnovers and they were critical. We've got to play a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win against anyone we play."
After matching the Razorbacks touchdown for touchdown in the first quarter, the Mean Green saw a 7-7 score unravel into a 31-7 Arkansas halftime lead after North Texas suffered three second-quarter turnovers and allowed the Razorbacks to score three TDs in the final four minutes of the opening half.
The Mean Green quieted the crowd of 50,000-plus at War Memorial Stadium midway through the first quarter when quarterback Andrew Smith hooked up with tight end Andy Blount for a 43-yard touchdown pass play that knotted the score at 7-7. It was the longest pass play for the Mean Green this season.
But on NT's first series of the second quarter, the Mean Green suffered the first of the three turnovers when a Smith pass was intercepted. A personal foul penalty against the Mean Green after the tackle on the return gave Arkansas the ball at the North Texas 17-yard line. The Razorbacks converted the turnover into a 31-yard field goal by David Carlton to put Arkansas up, 10-7 at the 8:00 mark.
Arkansas drove 46 yards in six plays on its next possession to go ahead 17-7 on a one-yard TD run with 4:01 remaining. North Texas then fumbled a pitch attempt on its next series and Arkansas recovered at the NT 26. From there, the Hogs scored on first down on a pass play to increase their lead to 24-7 with 2:11 left in the half.
The troubles for North Texas continued on the following kickoff when the Mean Green fumbled on the return and Arkansas recovered at the NT 28-yard line. Two plays later, Cedric Cobbs raced in from five yards out with 1:21 to widen the margin to 31-7.
Arkansas took an early 7-0 lead in the game after taking NT's game-opening on-sides kick at the NT 47 and scoring five plays later on a seven-yard TD run by Cobbs with 12:26 left in the first quarter.