After North Texas and UNLV went to the locker room at halftime with the Heart of Dallas Bowl tied 7-7, it was only a matter of time before one of the two offenses found its rhythm and start putting some points on the board in the second half. Both offenses had averaged more than 30 points per game on the year, and it was North Texas who answered the call, scoring 29 second-half points en route to a 36-14 win.
North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson completed 21-of-30 passes to eight different Mean Green receivers for 256 yards and two touchdowns. North Texas speedster Brelan Chancellor was all over the field for the Mean Green, catching six passes for 74 yards while scoring two rushing touchdowns and gaining 47 yards on seven carries.
UNLV jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a Caleb Herring nine-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Sullivan to cap off a well-orchestrated 95-yard drive. The Rebels then forced a North Texas three-and-out, but UNLV running back Keith Whitely fumbled the ensuing punt, allowing North Texas to tie the score on an Antoinne Jimmerson one-yard run.
The game trudged along through the third quarter before the North Texas offense began pouring it on early in the fourth. Touchdown passes to Drew Miller and Darnell Smith, along with Chancellor’s first touchdown run made it 28-7 North Texas before UNLV briefly made things interesting again when a 13-yard touchdown pass from Herring to Jerry Rice Jr. (yes, that Jerry Rice) brought the score to 28-14.
UNLV’s next offensive possession resulted in a Kenny Buyers interception. The interception set up Chancellor’s second touchdown run, which ultimately sealed the win.
The win is North Texas’ first bowl victory since 2002 and results in the fifth nine-win season in program history.
The loss drops UNLV’s record to 7-6, but the Rebels still registered the school’s first winning season since 2000.
- - -