For the first time this season, the Cougars’ offense took the opening drive down for a touchdown, and UH never looked back, defeating the University of North Texas 44-21 Saturday at Robertson Stadium. Junior running back Charles Sims finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown while compiling a career best — 210 rushing yards against the Mean Green.
“What (Sims) is doing is no surprise to me,” said head coach Tony Levine. “We look to get him the ball at least 25 times, and we did that tonight.”
The Cougars scored 17 first quarter points — the most in an opening period — and under center redshirt sophomore quarterback David Piland put together his finest game of the year, completing 31 of 41 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
“I like his decision-making, and he’s taking great care of the football,” Levine said. “One of the things that makes him a competitor is that he is a perfectionist. He is managing our offense very well.”
The Cougars’ defense also assisted Piland in his first career victory at Robertson by forcing two momentum-swinging interceptions and keeping UNT off the scoreboard until 6:44 was left in the first half.
“When the offense scores after we make a turnover, that’s that much more motivation for us to go out there and do it again,” said senior linebacker Phillip Steward. “If they score off our turnovers, we try to make more options and opportunities for them to score again.”
Along with Steward, three other defensive players — Everett Daniels, Derrick Mathews and Colton Valencia — recorded at least 11 tackles against a talented Mean Green rushing attack.
“We knew they were going to try to come out and run the power,” Steward said. “If we take them out in running the power, then they’d have to try and pass.”
The UH offensive output drew ties to that of last season’s 73-17 rout of Tulane. The offense’s 31 points during the first 30 minutes tied for the most since last season’s match-up, and Sims’ 210 yards just out-edged his 207 in the same game.
“Charles doing his job opens up the passing game,” Piland said. “There were a lot of things that we worked on during the week to eliminate wrinkles. Preparing that hard definitely paid off.”
Since dropping three straight games to open the season, UH has taken its last two matches while Levine and company credit the team’s effort to more than just what went right Saturday night.
“We won this game this past Monday through Friday in their preparation,” Levine said. “Everything we needed to do to win this game, we did this week.”
The Cougars begin preparation for UAB today and will be in search of moving to 2-0 in Conference USA when they take on the Blazers at 11 a.m. Saturday.