North Texas tightens grip on C-USA West with 41-7 rout of UTEP

Posted Saturday, Nov. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

North Texas checked off an essential item on its list of things to do in order to improve its bowl résumé and prospects for a Conference USA championship on Saturday afternoon: clobber inferior opponents.

The Mean Green very coolly dismantled UT El Paso (1-8, 0-5 C-USA) at a very steady pace by whipping the Miners up front with physical, dominating line play on both sides of the ball in a 41-7 C-USA victory at Apogee Stadium.

The catalysts for UNT’s fifth consecutive victory were a defense that sacked UTEP quarterback Mack Leftwich eight times and UNT running back Brandin Byrd, who carried 18 times for two touchdowns and ran up 202 of his team’s 317 rushing yards, including an 82-yard score early in the third quarter.

Antoinne Jimmerson also had a rushing touchdown, and quarterback Derek Thompson had a touchdown pass and 154 yards passing.

“We didn’t take them lightly or play down to their level,” said defensive end Aaron Bellazin, an Everman High School product who had 2.5 sacks. “We made sure we went out and did our job.”

UNT (7-3, 5-1) sits alone atop the conference’s West Division standings after Tulane’s loss to UT San Antonio.

The Mean Green and the 26,119 who came to watch them — the fourth-largest crowd in school history — were more than happy to learn that piece of good news.

UNT is now in control of the West Division. Rice, idle on Saturday, also has one loss, but the Mean Green owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.

If the Mean Green wins the last of its two regular-season games, UNT will assure itself a spot in the conference championship game opposite the East Division champion on Dec. 7.

Defense, they say, wins championships. On Saturday, UNT defenders attacked the Miners with the gusto of a condor on a carcass.

The Mean Green harassed Leftwich, a freshman making his first start, for four quarters and held the Miners’ rushing attack, second in C-USA, to 56 yards on 42 carries, almost 145 below their season average. UNT limited UTEP to 12 yards in the second quarter.

In addition to Bellazin’s sacks, Richard Abbe and Brandon McCoy each had two. UNT also had a blocked field goal to stymie UTEP’s first — and best — possession of the game.

Special teams also accounted for a touchdown in consecutive weeks.

Redshirt freshman Rex Rollins sped around the outside to block Jim Jones’ punt, which was recovered in the end zone by Darvin Kidsy.

That covered for an offense that scored only 14 points in the first half. The Mean Green scored 20 points on offense overall, including quarterback Derek Thompson’s 42-yard pass to Carlos Harris.

“You love to see the consistency from Brandin [Byrd],” UNT coach Dan McCarney said of his leading rusher. “He’s one of the toughest guys we have around here.”

In reality, It will now be difficult for anyone to keep UNT out of one of six C-USA bowl tie-ins, especially after the Mean Green became bowl eligible last week. Among those possibilities is the Liberty Bowl, the destination of the conference champion.

After a week off, UNT returns to Apogee Stadium on Nov. 23 for a game against UTSA.

“We have a great chance to go to a bowl somewhere in the country,” McCarney said. “There’s still a lot of football to play.”

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Thursday, October 30Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, October 30Full Scoreboard
Washington 10/30 7:00 PM ET
Orlando TV: CSN-DC, FSN-FL
New York 10/30 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: TNT
Detroit 10/30 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FSN-DET, FSN-N
Utah 10/30 8:30 PM ET
Oklahoma City 10/30 10:30 PM ET
LA Clippers TV: TNT
Full Scoreboard
Week 9Full Scoreboard
New Orleans 8:25 PM ET
Carolina TV: NFL Network
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: FOX
Arizona 1:00 PM ET
Dallas TV: FOX
Philadelphia 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: FOX
NY Jets 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: CBS
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
St. Louis 4:05 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
Denver 4:25 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NBC
Indianapolis 8:30 PM ET
NY Giants TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, October 30Full Scoreboard
Boston 10/30 7:00 PM ET
Winnipeg 10/30 7:00 PM ET
New Jersey TV: TSN3, MSG
Los Angeles 10/30 7:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NHLN, TVA2, FSN-W, ROOT
Chicago 10/30 7:30 PM ET
Philadelphia 10/30 7:30 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CSN-PHI, SUN
Arizona 10/30 7:30 PM ET
Florida TV: FSN-AZ, FSN-FL
San Jose 10/30 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: CSN-CA, FSN-N+
Anaheim 10/30 8:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FSN-PT, FSN-MW
NY Islanders 10/30 9:00 PM ET
Colorado TV: MSG+, Altitude
Montreal 10/30 10:00 PM ET
Vancouver TV: RDS, SN360
Full Scoreboard