Former North Texas running back Lance Dunbar made an appearance at the Mean Green’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette at Apogee Stadium on Tuesday night, just days before he could see his role expand with the Cowboys.
Dunbar was activated from the practice squad before the Cowboys’ game against Baltimore last week and picked up 11 yards on his only carry.
The Cowboys face Carolina on Sunday, and starter DeMarco Murray will be out at least one week after injuring his left foot against the Ravens.
Dunbar became UNT’s all-time leading rusher during the final game of his senior season in 2011, when he rushed for 313 yards in a win over Middle Tennessee.
Dunbar finished with 4,224 yards in a UNT career that began in 2008 and broke the previous school record of 4,050 yards set by Patrick Cobbs from 2001-05.
Dunbar spent the first four games of the season waiting for his opportunity with the Cowboys.
“It was a surprise that I got called up,” Dunbar said. “I was hoping. I knew that they would have to call someone up. My dream became a reality.”
UNT’s game against ULL was the second Mean Green game Dunbar has attended this season.
Television exposure abounds for UNT
UNT not only received the added exposure of having its game against ULL broadcast on ESPN2, but also had TXA-TV (Channel 21) broadcast live before kickoff.
The station was set up on the hill above Apogee Stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m.
UNT will have 10 games broadcast this season, including its first seven.
The Mean Green’s game against ULL was a landmark for the program because of the national television exposure it received.
The game was the first broadcast nationally at Apogee Stadium and the first game on ESPN2 for UNT since a 13-10 loss to Troy in 2005 that snapped the Mean Green’s 26-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak.
UNT promoted the game for weeks in an effort to have a large crowd for the rare appearance on national TV.
UNT offered two tickets for $10 in Apogee’s wing-shaped stands in the north end zone to boost attendance.
“It’s important for us to have a big crowd every time we play, but when you are on national TV it’s especially vital,” UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said in the days leading up to the game. “We are putting some things out there to promote that game. It’s important to have fans and students come out to show how we support the program.”
Deep snappers play in front of fathers
UNT deep snapper Blake Dunham has played in front of his father, UNT play-by-play announcer George Dunham of “The Ticket” KTCK-AM (1310), throughout the season.
He wasn’t the only player in that position during the Mean Green’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
ULL deep snapper John Broussard is the son of ULL play-by-play announcer Gerald Broussard.
George Dunham is in his 24th season on the Mean Green Radio Network.
Blake Dunham is in his first season as UNT’s deep snapper.
UNT head coach Dan McCarney has praised the performance of Blake Dunham throughout the season.
UNT opens pedestrian bridge before game
UNT opened a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 35E before the Mean Green’s game against ULL.
The bridge cost $2.5 million and connects UNT’s main campus and several parking areas used for games to an area near Apogee Stadium.
The bridge is 20 feet wide, 354 feet long and 17 feet tall.
UNT contributed $1 million to the project and donated the right of way on both sides of the highway. The rest of the project was paid for by regional toll revenues.
There was some concern among UNT officials that the bridge would not be ready in time for the Mean Green’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns, but the project was completed in time.
UNT officials hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bridge before the game.