A Look Back At NT Football History: 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl
Mean Green Celebrates The New Year With Its First Bowl Win In 12 Years
In honor of the 1,000th game in Mean Green football history Saturday against Florida Atlantic, we are highlighting five of the top moments, in no particular order, in the team's history.
North Texas vs. UNLV
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Cotton Bowl - Dallas
Jan. 1, 2014
DENTON - In the university's first year in Conference USA, not only did third-year head coach Dan McCarney help put together the Mean Green's first winning since 2004, but North Texas football marched its way to a 9-4 season and a Heart of Dallas Bowl win on New Year's Day.
After going 5-7 and 4-8 in his first two seasons and the team's final two years in the Sun Belt Conference, McCarney began 2013 with a chip on his shoulder to make North Texas a relevant contender in the new conference.
The team even came up with the motto, "Hit 6," before the season, in an attempt to motivate players and fans to get to six victories and become bowl eligible for the first time in nearly a decade.
With an upset victory over Ball State in the third game of the year, the atmosphere changed, and people began to recognize that something special was happening in Denton.
That sentiment was emphasized when North Texas hung in with No. 9 Georgia through three quarters the next week.
After beginning conference play 0-1 against Tulane, North Texas won five C-USA games in a row, including a decisive 28-16 home victory over the Rice Owls on Halloween.
After a disappointing loss to UTSA put the Mean Green out of C-USA championship contention, the Mean Green was selected for the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl against the UNLV Rebels out of the Mountain West Conference.
More than 30,000 Mean Green fans packed the Cotton Bowl for what basically turned out to be a home game for the North Texas squad.
UNLV, which came into the game 7-5 on the year, drove down for a touchdown on its first drive of the game to take an early 7-0 lead.
As the defense adjusted, the offense struggled to get going until a muffed Rebels punt put the Mean Green in its own territory late in the first, and North Texas tied the game on an Antoinne Jimmerson one-yard run.
The scored remained 7-7 at the half, but the second half was all Mean Green.
The North Texas seniors made their presence felt in the second as tight end Drew Miller caught a wide-open seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Thompson for the only score in the third. Then wide receiver Brelan Chancellor ran the ball in on a reverse and wide receiver Darnell Smith caught a 34-yeard Thompson pass to make it 28-7 Mean Green.
Chancellor, who finished the game with 121 yards through the air and on the ground combined, later added another rushing touchdown to seal the 36-14 Mean Green victory.
Thompson, who left the game briefly with a knee injury in the first quarter, was named Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP for his 256-yard, two-touchdown effort in his final collegiate game.
The Mean Green defense, which ranked among the best in all of college football in 2013, wreaked havoc in the game, sacking UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring five times, intercepting a pass and breaking up six more.
North Texas placed 12 players on the All-Conference team, including first-team members Chancellor, offensive lineman Cyril Lemon, linebacker Zach Orr and defensive back Marcus Trice. For his efforts on kickoff and punt returns, Chancellor was named 2013 C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year.
Many of the keys cogs from the bowl win graduated last year, but North Texas hopes build on its best year in the McCarney era and contend for many C-USA championships in years to come.
Check back every day for the next installment for five of the top moments in North Texas football history.
Previous Games: 1975 vs. Tennessee, 1977 vs. SMU, 2002 New Orleans Bowl
Next Game: 1946 Optimist Bowl