North Texas forces five turnovers in comeback win over Ball State

Posted Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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In terms of the scales of sports justice, North Texas demonstrated Saturday that dogged persistence can overcome the sins of mental missteps if given a second chance.

Or in this case, a second half.

The Mean Green managed to keep the game close — thanks mostly to football’s great equalizer, the turnover — and overcame a database full of mistakes and a 17-point deficit with a defense that shut out Ball State in the second half and an offense that capitalized by outscoring Ball State 17-0 in a 34-27 come-from-behind victory at Apogee Stadium.

Quarterback Derek Thompson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 26-yard run and had 274 yards passing, completing 31 of 47 and a touchdown for North Texas.

The Mean Green defense held Ball State to 130 yards in the second half after yielding more than twice that in the first 30 minutes.

Linebacker Will Wright sealed the victory with an interception with 1:12 left in the game, one of five Cardinals turnovers.

“We showed great resolve,” said coach Dan McCarney, whose team improved to 2-1 for the first time since 1994. “When you dig a hole like we did, it’s hard.

“But we were able to make enough big plays and we got some turnovers.”

The first-half film might be hard to watch for coaches and players. A report card includes:

• For a third consecutive game, the defense gave up a big play on the opposition’s opening drive, a 42-yard rush by Horactio Banks that set up the Cardinals’ first score (a 2-yard pass from quarterback Keith Wenning to Willie Snead). The defense later gave up a 77-yard touchdown run to Banks.

• The Mean Green went 3-for-9 on third-down conversions in the first half but 7-for-10 in the second half.

• A false-start penalty on Kaydon Kirby on third-and-goal from the 1 that turned a would-be touchdown into a field goal.

• A fumble by Antoinne Jimmerson at the North Texas 4 was recovered by Ball State’s Brian Jones, who trotted into the end zone for a touchdown.

• North Texas committed six penalties for 63 yards in the first half but only two for 25 in the third and fourth quarters.

Banks had 141 yards on 11 carries but was held to 5 yards in the second half. Wenning, who was 27-for-46 passing, was held to 95 yards in the last 30 minutes after registering 208 in the first half.

North Texas safety Marcus Trice, who had nine tackles, and cornerback Kenny Buyers each had a fumble recovery. Laramie Lee had an interception in the first half.

Running back Reggie Pegram, who had 65 of North Texas’ 231 yards rushing, scored on a 32-yard touchdown run in the second half, and Zach Paul hit a 19-yard field goal, one of his four on the day.

Brelan Chancellor hauled in a 25-yard scoring catch in the second quarter.

“We got off to a real bad start,” said linebacker Zach Orr, who had 11 total tackles, including one for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. “We had to start fighting and getting stops. We kept at it.

“The turnovers were big. That’s what kept us in the game.”

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