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Football: UNT can't stop Navy in record-setting shootout  

11:51 AM CST on Sunday, November 11, 2007

By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

North Texas head coach Todd Dodge has been around football for pretty much all his life and never experienced a game like the one the Mean Green played against Navy on Saturday.

UNT racked up a 635 yards of offense, saw quarterback Giovanni Vizza set an NCAA record for touchdown passes in a game by a freshman with eight, and still managed to fall to the Midshipmen 74-62 at Fouts Field in a game that set several NCAA records.

The 136 combined score established an NCAA record for points scored in a regulation game and tied the overall mark for points set by Boise State and Nevada earlier this year -- in a game that went to four overtimes. The 63 combined points in the second period was also an NCAA record for a quarter.

“We knew it would be this type of game, but I have never been a part of a game quite like this,” Dodge said. “You have to give credit to Navy. They executed their offense very well and we couldn’t stop them.”

Navy (6-4) broke the game open by scoring 27 unanswered points to come back from an 18-point deficit. The Midshipmen earned a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl just a week after beating Notre Dame in triple overtime.

The Mean Green (1-8) lost its third straight in front of 26,012, the third largest crowd for a UNT game in Fouts Field history.

Navy scored on all but three of its 14 possessions, including the final drive of the game when backup quarterback Jarod Bryant took a knee to drain the final seconds off the clock.

UNT came into the game ranked last nationally with an average of 46.5 points allowed per game and continued to struggle. The 74 points Navy scored was the most the Midshipmen have posted since defeating Colby 121-0 in 1919.

“We knew coming into this game it was going to be tough and physical,” UNT defensive end Jeremiah Chapman said. “Our goal was to make them punt the ball three times because they hadn’t punted much this year. … We didn’t force any turnovers and couldn’t stop them.”

UNT forced Navy to punt just once and couldn’t come up with the key plays defensively on a night its offense thrived. Vizza tied an NCAA record for most touchdown passes in a half with seven. Casey Fitzgerald caught five of Vizza’s touchdown strikes.

Vizza and Dodge both said the Mean Green’s performance provided a glimpse of what UNT’s offense will look like in the future. Dodge is in his first year with the Mean Green and is still in the process of installing his no-huddle spread attack.

“I thought we executed very well, especially in the first half,” said Vizza, who finished with 478 passing yards. “We just weren’t able to get on a roll in the second half. … Tonight’s game really shows what this offense can do when you execute well.”

UNT grabbed a 49-31 lead when Vizza connected with Sam Dibrell on a 75-yard touchdown pass with 4:12 left in the second quarter before Navy posted four unanswered touchdowns.

Midshipmen running back Zerb Singleton scored two of his three touchdowns during Navy’s surge and finished with 103 rushing yards. Fellow running back Shun White led Navy with 131 yards on the ground.

UNT never recovered on a night when its defense struggled, despite Navy losing starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada early in the third quarter with a leg injury. UNT couldn’t come up with the key stops it needed, even with the Midshipmen’s star player on the sideline.

 “I don’t have a whole lot of answers right now, until I see the tape,” Dodge said of UNT’s defensive performance. “There are a lot of different things that can go wrong.”

Dodge declined to make defensive coordinator Ron Mendoza available for comment after the game.

Vizza said he couldn’t enjoy his performance after a loss.

“I grade myself on wins and losses,” Vizza said. “It’s pass or fail and we didn’t get it done tonight.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is bvito@dentonrc.com.

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