There have been times over the past few weeks when North Texas seemed downright potent offensively.
There was a 55-point outburst in a win over Southern Mississippi and just two weeks ago a 41-point outing in a win over UTEP.
That series of solid performances came grinding to a halt Saturday in a 21-13 loss to Texas-San Antonio in the Mean Green’s home finale at Apogee Stadium.
UNT managed just three points through the first three quarters and saw its late charge stall out at the UTSA 3-yard line on the final play of the game, when Roadrunner cornerback Bennett Okotcha intercepted Derek Thompson’s pass in the end zone.
“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Thompson said. “We had opportunities and didn’t execute. We didn’t do enough to win.”
Thompson threw for 229 yards while connecting on 26 of his 46 pass attempts. The senior hit Darnell Smith 13 times for 115 yards.
That just wasn’t enough, especially on a day UNT’s running game failed to get going. Brandin Byrd carried the ball 12 times for 52 yards, and UNT finished with an uncharacteristically low 105 yards on the ground.
Antoinne Jimmerson’s 14-yard run was UNT’s longest of the game.
UNT rolled up 317 rushing yards in its last outing, a 41-7 win over UTEP, and had at least 149 rushing yards in each of its outings during a five-game winning streak.
“When we can’t run the ball consistency, it really hurts our offense,” UNT coach Dan McCarney said.
McCarney attributed UNT’s problems partly to linemen who didn’t sustain blocks to open up holes for Byrd and Jimmerson.
UNT didn’t make many big plays in the passing game, either. The Mean Green’s longest passing play — a strike from Thompson to Smith on the second-to-last play of the game — covered just 25 yards.
When UNT did move the ball into UTSA territory, it often failed to cash in. Zach Paul missed a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter, when the Mean Green also failed to convert on a fake field goal attempt.
UNT lined up for what would have been a 54-yard attempt for Paul on fourth-and-10. Punter Blake Macek took the snap and ran on the designed fake.
Macek was cut down 5 yards short of the first down. The play is one McCarney said UNT had worked on all week after scouting the Roadrunners.
Those empty trips into UTSA territory were too much for UNT to overcome.
“There is no question that we didn’t cash in,” McCarney said. “Get in the end zone; score points. We didn’t do nearly enough of that today. We were not consistent enough with our offense.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.