DENTON (9/27/03) -- North Texas tied an NCAA record by forcing three safeties and got career performances from quarterback Scott Hall, running back Patrick Cobbs and receiver Johnny Quinn as the Mean Green overpowered Louisiana-Lafayette, 44-23, Saturday night before 19,271 at Fouts Field.
In capturing its Sun Belt Conference opener, North Texas rolled to its 12th consecutive victory over a league opponent, improving to 2-3 overall. The loss, the Ragin' Cajuns' fourth straight to the Mean Green, dropped Louisiana-Lafayette to 0-5 and 0-2 on Sun Belt play.
After falling behind early, the Mean Green roared back to take command of the game with a combined team effort that featured the defense coming up with an NCAA record-tying three safeties and the offensive striking with career-high efforts from Hall, Cobbs and Quinn.
"We've been trying to find some balance on offense and we finally executed," said North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey. "I thought Scott Hall and Patrick Cobbs played very well and Johnny Quinn was spectacular. I was also proud that when Lafayette cut it to seven points, we were able to respond and make plays to win the game."
Hall started at quarterback and played through the middle of the fourth quarter, finishing with a career-high 222 yards passing. He connected on 9 of 16 passes and three touchdowns -- which also tied his career best.
Cobbs complimented the air attack by rushing for 157 yards on 26 carries and scoring two touchdowns. The 157 yards surpassed his previous career high of 131 yards set against Baylor back on Sept. 6 while his 26 rushes erased his old career high of 20 set against Idaho in 2001.
Finally, Quinn joined in on the record-setting night by pulling down a team-leading five catches -- including three for touchdowns -- for 176 yards. The three TDs were the first of his career -- he's a redshirt freshman -- while five receptions and 176 receiving yards also established new career marks for him.
North Texas rolled up a total of 451 yards in offense with a balanced attacked that saw the Mean Green rush for 229 yards and pass for 222 yards. The 451 yards of offense matched the season high set against Baylor earlier this month.
After Louisiana-Lafayette took a 7-0 lead after scoring on its first possession of the game, North Texas took control of the game by scoring 16 points in the span of 1:30 and taking a 16-7 lead into the second quarter. It started with Quinn's first TD, a 29-yard reception from Hall at the 5:58 mark. On the Cajuns' second play after the kickoff, NT's Brandon Kennedy tackled running back Travis Smothers in the end zone for a safety. North Texas got the ball back on a free kick and on second down Hall and Quinn connected again, this time on a 54-yard scoring pass play.
A Nick Bazaldua field goal of 39 yards and a 39-yard TD run by Cobbs on the Mean Green's first two possessions of the second quarter widened NT's lead to 26-7 before a pair of Lafayette-Louisiana field goals closed the gap to 26-13 at halftime.
On the Cajuns' first two series of the third quarter, the Mean Green defense came up with safeties. The first happened with Tommy Harrison and Cody Spencer combined to sack Eric Rekieta in the end zone. An errant snap over the punter's head in the back of the end zone resulted in the Mean Green's third safety of the night.
Louisiana-Lafayette pulled to within 30-23 with a touchdown pass and field goal late in the third quarter before the Mean Green put things out of reach in the fourth quarter with a pair of scores. Cobbs busted loose for his second TD of the night on a 14-yard run just 56 seconds into the period before Hall hooked up with Quinn on a 37-yard scoring strike at the 7:41 mark of the quarter.
North Texas now takes a week off before resuming league play at Idaho on Saturday, Oct. 11.