Utah State Loses To North Texas 31-23
Oct. 9, 2004
LOGAN, Utah - AP - T.J. Covington recovered a fumble in the back of the end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, and Jamario Thomas rushed for a school record 256 yards and two touchdowns as North Texas extended its Sun Belt Conference winning streak to 20 games by beating Utah State 31-23 Saturday night.
Covington's touchdown came at a key moment of the game. The Aggies (2-4, 1-2 Sun Belt) appeared to be headed for the go-ahead score, but quarterback Travis Cox was hit by Markeith Knowlton at the Mean Green 1-yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone. Covington picked it up about 9 yards deep, broke one tackle and sprinted to the other goal line to give North Texas (2-4, 2-0) a 31-20 lead with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter.
Following a Jarrod Jakubiak 34-yard field goal for Utah State that cut the lead to 31-23 with 1:56 left in the third, the Aggies had a chance to possibly tie the game midway through the fourth. However, Trent Nate dropped a pass from Cox in the end zone on a fourth-and-two play from the Mean Green 3.
Utah State had one more chance with the ball after forcing North Texas to punt with under three minutes to go. The Aggies moved the ball into Mean Green territory, but turned it over on downs with 1:19 left.
Thomas, a freshman who had 159 yards in the first half, broke the old school record of 247 yards he shared with Malcolm Jones.
Jones first set the mark against Northeast Louisiana in 1980 and Thomas matched it earlier this season on Sept. 18 at Colorado. Thomas scored on runs of 48 and 27 yards against the Aggies.
Cox was 22-of-40 for 290 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown, but threw four interceptions for Utah State, which turned the ball over six times. North Texas converted four of those turnovers into 24 points.
The Mean Green trailed the entire first half, including 20-17 at halftime. North Texas took the lead for good when Andy Blount caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Scott Hall to make it 24-20 with 8:03 left in the third.
Kevin Robinson returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown to give the Aggies a 13-3 lead with 11:49 remaining in the first half. After scoring the touchdown, Robinson was ejected from the game after receiving his second unsportsmanlike penalty of the game.
UTAH STATE POSTGAME NOTES vs. North Texas Oct. 9, 2004
O - For the fifth time in seven games in this series, the game was decided by one score.
O - UNT's 100-yard fumble return for a score in the third quarter marked the fourth touchdown by the opponents' defense this season (interception returns by Alabama, Utah and Troy).
O - UNT's 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the third-longest play in Romney Stadium history (105-yard kickoff return by Altie Taylor vs. West Texas State in 1967 and a 102-yard kickoff return byTom Larscheid vs. BYU in 1960).
O - USU produced a season high in total offense (previous best was 342 at Troy last week).
O - WR Tony Pennyman had a career-best reception night. His reception total was the most by an Aggie this year (TE Chris Cooley had 10 catches in last year's season finale at Idaho). Pennyman's best yardage total coming into tonight was 119 yards on four catches at UNLV.
O - USU committed six turnovers, its most since committing seven at Troy in the 10th game of last season. USU had committed six turnovers in its previous three games combined.
O - QB Travis Cox recorded a season best passing yardage total (previous best was 222 at Troy last week). He recorded the fourth 300-yard passing game of his career (322 vs. Idaho, 38 vs. Arizona State and 301 vs. Middle Tennessee, all last year).
O - Rod McNeal became the fourth different Aggie to start at tailback this season (six games). Defensively, Andre Bala made his first season start at strong safety (third career start), while John Chick made his first season start at linebacker (21st career start).
O - QB Travis Cox recorded his second rushing touchdown of the year and the sixth of his career on the team's first possession.
O - Cox moved into eighth place on the USU career passing list. He entered tonight with 3,752 yards (Patrick Mullins was eighth with 3,759).
O - Cox has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 17 of his 18 career starts.
O - The 5:15-long opening scoring drive by USU was its longest by time this season (previous was a 4:11-drive that resulted in a field goal vs. UNLV).
O - USU entered tonight's game 2-0 this year when scoring first. Interestingly enough (at least to me) tonight marks the first time this year the Aggies have led at half.
O - USU limited North Texas to just a field goal in the first quarter to mark the second fewest points the Aggies have allowed in the opening period this year (Idaho did not score). USU had allowed the opponents 51 first quarter points in the first five games combined. - more- O - WR Kevin Robinson returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. That was his second such return this season (school-record tying 90-yard return at Troy last week). His two returns for scores tie the school record for most punt returns for touchdowns in a season with four others (most recent Steve Smith in 1997).
O - Robinson entered tonight second in the NCAA in punt return average at 30.0. After returns of 43 and 71 tonight he is averaging 36.2 with all nine of his returns for at least 10 yards.
O - WR Blake Garrett recorded a touchdown on his first collegiate reception in the second quarter. He became the 14th different Aggie with a catch this year and the sixth different player with a touchdown reception this season.
O - USU's 20 first-half points were its most in an opening half since scoring 21 (led 21-0) against Middle Tennessee in the ninth game of last year.