Last second field goal leads Tulane over UNT

Brett Medeiros / Senior Staff Writer

The UNT football team put up a close game against Tulane University on Saturday with a chance at its best record since 1994, but lost 24-21 on a 27-yard field goal as time expired.

After trailing by fourteen points, a 62-yard pass from senior quarterback Derek Thompson to senior wide receiver Darnell Smith tied the game at 21 with 3:45 left to play. But junior quarterback Nick Montana, son of NFL legend Joe Montana, led the Tulane offense on an 11-play drive to set up the game-winning field goal by senior kicker Cairo Santos.

“We didn’t do what we needed to do to get our offense back on the field and win the game for us,” junior linebacker Derek Akunne said. “They made plays on the last drive, and we didn’t make the plays we needed to make.  That’s how the game was won.”

The Mean Green (2-3, 0-1) was playing its first Conference USA opponent since moving from the Sun Belt Conference.

Tulane (4-2, 2-0) held the Mean Green scoreless until the third quarter and the UNT running game managed only 34 yards on 20 attempts.

The UNT offense scored three touchdowns in the second half but the late effort was not enough to pull out the win. The Mean Green is 1-4 all time at the Mercedes-Hertz Superdome, returning to the stadium where they played the New Orleans Bowl four straight years from 2001 to 2004.

“When you play like we did in the first half, we were lucky to even be in the game. We played just about as bad as we could in the first half,” Thompson said. “When we competed in the second half, we gave ourselves an opportunity to be there at the end. Good job by them; they had a great scheme against us.”

Tulane pulled away in the third quarter with a blocked field goal that returned it for a touchdown. On the next drive, Tulane took Thompson’s second interception in the game 59 yards for the score.

Penalties handcuffed the Mean Green all game, extending Tulane drives and forcing the offense afterwards. The team committed 11 penalties for 105 total yards.

“The pre-snap issues are inexcusable. You just can’t have the false starts. We have to do a better job coaching it,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “Defensively, I thought a couple of the calls were aggressive and close to being personal fouls.”

The Mean Green will face Middle Tennessee State University at home next Saturday – its first home game since Sept. 14. Kickoff at Apogee Stadium is at 6 p.m.

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