Derek Thompson seemed like he couldn’t miss a week ago during North Texas’ loss to Kansas State.
On Saturday, Thompson and the Mean Green moved the ball during their Sun Belt Conference opener against Troy at Apogee Stadium. UNT just couldn’t cash in when it mattered during a 14-7 loss.
The Mean Green pushed the ball inside Troy’s 30-yard line six times but only cashed in once. UNT’s kicking game was the major problem. Zach Olen missed a pair of field goals and backup Zach Paul missed another.
UNT’s offense didn’t help much either.
“We moved the ball all over the place,” Thompson said. “Third down just killed us. Going 2-of-14 is unacceptable. We know that when we get into the red zone we need to score, and we just didn’t do it.”
UNT went for it twice on fourth down deep in Troy territory in the fourth quarter and failed to convert both times.
Thompson said he felt like he could have fit the ball in to wide receiver Ivan Delgado on fourth-and-11 from the Troy 17-yard line on the first of those opportunities.
Thompson also couldn’t connect with Brelan Chancellor on fourth-and-16 from the Troy 30 on what turned out to be UNT’s final chance of the night.
He missed Drew Miller in the end zone in the second quarter.
“It was a TD,” Thompson said of the play when Miller broke free. “I just missed it. It won’t happen again, I guarantee it.”
Those misses spoiled what was a solid night for some of UNT’s players.
Chancellor finished with 143 all-purpose yards against Troy and moved into eighth place in UNT history with 3,039 yards.
Thompson threw for 236 yards on 12-of-28 passing one week after going 25-for-28 against Kansas State.
UNT holds its ground after onside kick
Troy surprised UNT by converting an onside kick open the second half.
Trojans wide receiver Chip Reeves recovered the ball at the Troy 48-yard line, giving the Trojans a chance to grab momentum.
Troy went for the end zone, but cornerback Zac Whitfield broke up a deep pass intended for Reeves.
The Trojans didn’t pick up a yard on the possession and punted.
“That was a big point in the game,” UNT defensive tackle Richard Abbe said. “They tried that Hail Mary pass right after that and we were able to stop them.”
UNT makes key stand
UNT made a key stand in the third quarter when Troy had a chance to extend its 14-7 lead.
Troy pushed the ball from its 20 all the way to the UNT 26-yard line. The Trojans were flagged for a false start, lost 2 yards on a completion from Corey Robinson to Justin Albert and later failed to convert on third-and-10.
Troy allowed Will Scott to try a 50-yard field goal attempt that fell well short.
Mean Green uses wildcat
UNT used the wildcat formation when it was backed up in its own end of the field in the first quarter.
Chancellor lined up at quarterback, took the snap and broke free for a 28-yard gain. The run got UNT out of a tough spot after it took over at its own 7-yard line.
UNT used the formation throughout the game.
Orr picks up interception
Troy appeared to be gaining some traction offensively late in the first quarter and had driven to UNT’s 35-yard line when linebacker Zach Orr made one of the big plays early in the game for the Mean Green.
UNT flushed Robinson from the pocket. He threw the ball on the run. Orr came up and made a diving catch to stop the Trojans’ drive.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.