DENTON, Texas (AP) -- Jamario Thomas ran for 291 yards and tied
an NCAA mark with his fifth straight 200-yard game as North Texas
won its fourth consecutive conference title and a spot in the New
Orleans Bowl with a 51-29 victory over Idaho on Saturday night.
Thomas, the nation's leading rusher entering the game at 177.3
yards a game, also scored four TDs and extended his NCAA freshman
record with his sixth 200-yard game as UNT (6-4, 6-0 Sun Belt) won
its 24th straight conference game.
The Mean Green will play a Conference USA team in the New
Orleans Bowl on Dec. 14.
The Vandals (3-8, 2-5) played their final game in the Sun Belt
Conference and will move to the WAC next season.
Thomas broke the North Texas and Sun Belt Conference single-game
rushing mark for the third time this season, surpassing the 258 he
gained Oct. 23 against New Mexico State. It was also his fifth
straight game over 200, tying the NCAA record shared by Marcus
Allen (USC, 1981) and Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State, 1988).
Thomas has 1,709 yards this season, breaking the Sun Belt and
UNT single-season rushing record. The record was 1,680 set by
Patrick Cobbs last season.
He broke a 70-yard run for a touchdown on the game's third play.
On the next series he also scored on the third play, going 31 yards
to put UNT up 13-0. After four carries he had 107 yards. His final
touchdown, a 15-yard run, put North Texas ahead 37-22 with 8:58
Idaho pulled within 37-29 with 6:12 left when Michael Harrington
threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Luke Smith-Anderson.
But then Scott Hall connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass to
Johnny Quinn with 1:40 remaining to put the Mean Green up 44-29.
UNT added one more score when Maurice Holman returned an
interception to the Idaho 35, then fumbled. Teammate Walter
Priestley picked up the ball and scored.
Harrington was 24-of-42 for 328 yards and two touchdowns.
Desmond Belton caught eight passes for 156 yards and Bobby
Bernal-Wood had 12 receptions for 137 yards and a score.
Idaho's freshman running back Jayson Bird, who entered the game
as the fourth-leading rusher in the conference, left the game after
his first carry with a sprained knee. He did not return.