DENTON, Texas – Derek Thompson has spent two years fending off challengers for the Mean Green starting quarterback position, but his performance in Saturday night’s 40-6 season-opening win over Idaho did nothing to diminish his grip on the job.
On a blisteringly hot night at Apogee Stadium, Thompson was efficient and accurate, completing his first seven passes, 12 of 15 in the first half, and 23 of 27 for the game for a career-high 349 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with eight different receivers, did not suffer an interception, and directed the North Texas offense to 40 unanswered points.
“What a great job of leading he did,” North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. “You expect your senior quarterback to perform, and, boy, he did tonight.”
Idaho got off to a quick start with a pair of big plays and a well-executed onside kick, and held a 6-0 lead. But North Texas began to take control when it stuffed a Vandal fourth-down run at the Mean Green 19.
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From there, a balanced North Texas offense overwhelmed the Vandals. The Mean Green offensive line paved the way for the ground game, led by Brandin Byrd, Reggie Pegram and Antoinne Jimmersonto pile up 180 yards while allowing no sacks for the fourth-straight game, dating back to last season.
After surrendering the two early big plays, the North Texas defense clamped down on Idaho. Aaron Bellazin led a Mean Green pass rush that kept Vandals QB Chad Chalich on the run, and Zach Orr, Marcus Trice, and Laramie Lee combined for 21 tackles and three forced fumbles.