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North Texas 58, Arkansas State 14

11/15/2003

DENTON, Texas (AP) -- The Sun Belt Conference bullies flexed
their muscles once again.

Patrick Cobbs rushed for 228 yards and scored four touchdowns as
North Texas beat Arkansas State 58-14 on Saturday to win the
conference title and a New Orleans Bowl berth for the third
straight year.

Scott Hall also threw three touchdown passes as the Mean Green
(8-3, 6-0) won its 17th straight conference game, the longest
streak in Division 1-A. The Mean Green will face a Conference USA
team in the Dec. 16 New Orleans Bowl.

The last time North Texas won three consecutive conference
crowns was from 1950-1952 in the Gulf Coast Conference.

"It's hard because everyone is gunning for you every game,"
North Texas defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy said. "We've tried to
keep it simple and prepare for each game as it comes."

Cobbs, who entered the game as the nation's leading rusher at
140.8 yards per game, went over 100 yards for the seventh straight
game. He had TD runs of 28, 1 and 35 yards and caught a 24-yard
touchdown pass.

"He had that look in his eye before the game," North Texas
coach Darrell Dickey said. "You could tell he was ready to play."

The Mean Green had 522 yards of offense and scored on its first
three possessions to jump to a 21-0 lead. Arkansas State (5-6, 3-3)
had 190 yards of offense and turned the ball over four times.

The Indians came in averaging 187 rushing yards per contest, but
were held to 41.

"We came out wanting to shut down their running game," Dickey
said. "That really set the tone."

Hall, who passed for 185 yards, found Andy Blount on a 28-yard
touchdown pass just two minutes into the game. On the Mean Green's
next offensive play, Hall hit Blount on a 48-yard TD pass. Blount
had five receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Arkansas State appeared to catch a break when Cobbs fumbled at
the Arkansas State 8-yard line, but North Texas' Randy Gardner
picked up the loose ball in the end zone for a TD.

"That easily could have gone the other way," Cobbs said. "The
ball just bounced our way."

The Indians scored on Elliott Jacobs' 20-yard TD pass to Chuck
Walker late in the third and Shermar Bracey's 1-yard touchdown run
in the fourth.

"They hit us early," Arkansas State's Casey Venters said.
"Getting down 21 points is always tough, but it is even worse on
the road. It is very hard to regroup after getting down by that
much so early on."

The teams combined for 287 penalty yards

North Texas, who was flagged 17 times for 183 yards, received
three 15-yard penalties on one play in the fourth quarter.

Jeremy Pearl's 36-yard interception return for a touchdown was
called back because of taunting during the return. North Texas was
also flagged for orchestrating a touchdown celebration and
unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Mean Green scored two plays later on Kevin Moore's 58-yard
TD run.