DENTON, Tx (11/10/01) - Scott Hall threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as North Texas defeated Louisiana Lafayette 42-17. North Texas is one win away from winning the Sun Belt Conference Championship and a berth in the New Orleans Bowl. The Mean Green has now won four straight games for the first time since 1994.
“We have been through a lot and tonight we weren’t perfect, but overall I was extremely pleased with our effort and the intensity of the kids,” said head coach Darrell Dickey.
The Ragin Cajuns took the initial lead on an 18 play, 80-yard drive capped off by a six-yard touchdown catch by Nick Dugas. The Mean Green would answer with two straight scores, one a 13-yard touchdown run by Scott Hall and the other a 29-yard touchdown reception by freshman Ja’Mel Branch. Lafayette would cut the North Texas lead to 14-10 on a Jonathon Knott field goal to end the half.
Lafayette would carry the momentum into the second half. Running back Ivan Taylor, substituting for injured starting running back Jerome Coleman, raced 65-yards for a touchdown giving the Cajuns a 17-14 lead early in the second half.
North Texas would answer with a 7 play 65-yard drive ending on a spectacular 10-yard touchdown catch by George Marshall in the back of the end zone. Lafayette quarterback Jon Van Cleave would be intercepted on the next Cajuns possession by Mean Green safety Craig Jones. North Texas marched down the field once again and Hall scored his second rushing touchdown of the night from one yard out to make it 28-17. North Texas got one more big play, this one from the special teams. Ty Jackson, who had a 49-yard punt return in the first half, went 50-yards for a touchdown giving the Mean Green a 35-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“Ty Jackson’s punt returns were huge and his touchdown put us back in command of the game,” said coach Dickey.
North Texas put an exclamation point on the afternoon when Hall hooked up with Marshall for a 32-yard touchdown pass for the second time of the game.
“They played better than we did in the second half. They wanted it more. We thought the game would be a lot closer than 42-17. I give Coach Dickey and his staff credit; their players wanted this one,” said Lafayette head coach Jerry Baldwin.
North Texas running back Kevin Galbreath gained over 100-yards for the fifth consecutive game tying him with Bernard Jackson for consecutive games with over 100-yards. Galbreath had 117 yards in the game. Quarterback Scott Hall ended up with 86 yards rushing and 139 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air, two on the ground.
Ragin Cajuns quarterback Jon Van Cleave threw for 338 yards in 66 attempts. With a win next week against Idaho, North Texas will win their first conference championship since 1994, and earn their first bowl game since the 1959 Sun Bowl.