North Texas captured its second bowl victory in school history by shaking off a slow start and dominating the second half in a 36-14 victory over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Wednesday at the Cotton Bowl.
Quarterback Derek Thompson was 21 of 30 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns in the second half for the Mean Green, who outscored the the Rebels 29-7 in the second half. Thompson was named the game’s most valuable player.
Drew Miller and Darnell Smith were Thompson’s touchdown recipients and Brelan Chancellor added two scores.
North Texas had just 142 yards in the first half and its top two rushers, Brandin Byrd and Jimmerson, were held to 32 yards on 14 carries.
On third down, the Mean Green converted only once on six attempts.
Penalties hurt the Mean Green.
A chop block penalty on Kadon Kirby erased Byrd’s 43-yard gain a first-down rush. An off-sides on fourth down gave the Rebels a first down on their side of the field in the final minute of the first half.
The penalty resulted in no harm after the Rebels missed a long field-goal attempt at the end of the half.
On the Mean Green’s first possession of the second half, a late hit cost the Mean Green 15 yards and set up third-and-16 instead of third-and-1. North Texas picked up the first down, though, on a 17-yard gain on the next snap.
Defensively, Will Wright and James Jones let what appeared to be sure interceptions fall through their hands. Jones had no one between him and the end zone.
The game stood tied 7-all after the first 30 minutes. Jimmerson accounted for North Texas’ score, a 1-yard run.
Marcus Sullivan was responsible for the Rebels touchdown, a 9-yard pass from Herring, capping an eight-play, 95-yard drive in the first quarter.