TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Despite managing just 89 yards of total
offense, North Texas made a misfiring Tulsa sweat for a half before
falling 28-3 on Saturday.
That touchdown capped a 96-yard drive in which the Golden
Hurricane converted three times on fourth down, including the final
play. Tulsa had been prepared to kick a tying field goal until
North Texas called a timeout for substitution purposes, at which
point Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe sent the offense back out.
"I think our coaches wanted to get some momentum going into
halftime," Smith said. "Up to that point we had sputtered. I was
about ready to go into halftime, then all of a sudden were out
Smith, who threw just six interceptions in 364 attempts a year
ago, was on target in the second half, directing Tulsa (2-1) on two
long scoring drives to open the half. He finished with 266 yards
passing and two touchdowns, completing 21 of 33 passes.
"We just talked about what we needed to fix," Kragthorpe said
of his halftime adjustments. "We made some errors early, but I
thought Paul settled down and did a good job throwing the ball
North Texas wasn't able to build on its early advantage. The
Mean Green had just 27 yards rushing in 31 attempts and
quarterbacks Woody Wilson and Daniel Meager combined to pass for
just 62 yards as Tulsa had its top defensive outing since limiting
Indiana State to 69 yards in 2001.
"It was a very frustrating night, particularly offensively,"
said North Texas coach Darrell Dickey. "We are very intent on
establishing the running game and its not happening.
... Obviously, Tulsa deserves a lot of credit for shutting us
Smith directed Tulsa on scoring drives of 82 and 70 yards to
open the second half. The first was capped by an inside screen that
Ryan Bugg converted into a 34-yard touchdown.
It was Bugg's fourth reception of the drive and he finished with
seven catches for 87 yards.
Brandon Diles scored on a 1-yard run to finish off the next
drive and later scored on a 9-yard fourth-quarter run on the first
play following a fumble by Meager, who replaced Wilson in the third
North Texas back Jamario Thomas, who ran for 1,801 yards in
2004, was limited to 33 yards in 13 carries. Receiver Johnny Quinn
extended his consecutive game streak with a reception to 39, but
had just the one catch for 5 yards.
Tulsa's defense rebounded from allowing 49 points and 467 yards
the previous week against Brigham Young.