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UH rolls past North Texas

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In a game where the Houston Cougars were the favorites over the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday, Cougar fans got to see offensive fireworks after a slow first half.

Coming off a convincing win against BCS-conference program UCLA Bruins last week, the Cougars traveled to Denton looking to get their first away victory of the season. However, 21 point underdog North Texas was inaugurating a new home, Agopee Stadium, and the Mean Green wanted to win on opening day. North Texas’ plan was to establish the run with senior running back Lance Dunbar, kill clock time, and most importantly get ball away from UH quarterback Case Keenum.

The game was close at half time with Cougars leading 20-17, but the second half belonged to Houston as they went on to outscore the Mean Green 28-6 in the second – ultimately walking away from Agopee Stadium with a much deserved win of 48-23.

In their first meeting since Oct. 24, 1998 where Houston also dominated 31-9, North Texas was able capitalize early in the game after both teams turned the ball over. Freshman quarterback Andrew McNulty ran the ball down the end zone to give North Texas the lead.

The Cougars started to show signs of life following an early first quarter that was marked by turnovers. With Houston down by four, Keenum was able to connect with wide receiver Isaiah Sweeney on a 28 yard pass for a touchdown, giving the Cougars their first lead of the game 10-7. The last touchdown for UH until after the half was scored on a one yard run by running back Michael Hayes (13 att, 69 yds, 1 TD), making it 17-7.

In the second quarter, North Texas was committed to keeping the ball away from Keenum. At the eight minute mark, quarterback Derek Thompson connected with tight end Andrew Power with a 5 yard touchdown pass to make it three point game, 17-14. The Cougars were seeing a completely different North Texas team than last week when they lost 41-16 to Florida International. Their plan: running the ball and killing the clock.

The result was a Cougars team that couldn’t take control of the game. North Texas was able to tie the game at 17 before the Cougars kicked a field goal to lead by three at half time.

In the third, the Cougars’ fast pace no-huddle offense was lightening quick, and Keenum was able to find wide receiver Justin Johnson (4 rec, 88 yds, 2 TDs) open twice in the end zone which gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the game 34-17.

Patrick Edwards (7 rec, 182 yds, 1 TD) then added to the lead on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Keenum that saw the Cougars go up 41-17.

The Mean Green defense was outscored 21 – 0 in the third quarter and couldn’t keep up with Keenum and company.

By the 11th minute mark of the fourth quarter, Keenum sat out for the rest of the game and back-up quarterback Cotton Turner took over. The fourth quarter was a mere formality as the Cougars went on to win 48-23.

Keenum threw for 460 yards, completing 25 of 39 attempts and five touchdowns. This win (26th) ties Keenum with former UH and current Arizona Cardinal quarterback Kevin Kolb for the school record for most wins as a starting quarterback. He also passes UT’s Colt McCoy on the NCAA all-time touchdown passes list for seventh place. Houston (2-0) now travels to Ruston, La. where they will face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs next Saturday at Joe Aillet Stadium.

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