DENTON, Texas (AP) - This was not the way Indiana wanted to finish its non-conference schedule.
Not with a rugged Big Ten schedule on the horizon, including its conference opener against Penn State next weekend.
Indiana was held scoreless through three quarters before backup quarterback Dusty Kiel led a frantic rally that fell short in a 24-21 loss to North Texas on Saturday night.
Lance Dunbar, who had 279 all-purpose yards, caught an 83-yard touchdown pass and North Texas scored on all three of its second-quarter drives to jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Hoosiers (1-3) hope to turn things around by the time they face Penn State in their conference home opener.
``We have to come into the conference season with a chip on our shoulder,' Indiana safety Chris Adkins said. ``We didn't have that in the first half. We didn't play with the emotion that we needed.'
Dunbar, North Texas' leading rusher the past two seasons, had a career-high 152 yards receiving and added 127 more rushing. After losing fumbles on consecutive drives in the opening quarter, Dunbar turned a swing pass into his long touchdown reception early in the second quarter to give North Texas (1-3) its first score. It was his 39th career touchdown, a new school record.
``Dunbar is a great player,' Adkins said. ``Regardless of who we play, it's about us. I blame a lot of it on me for not doing the things we needed to on defense to win the game.'
The Hoosiers played without leading receiver Damarlo Belcher, who did not make the trip because of an undisclosed injury. The senior came into the game with 14 catches for 190 yards.
Indiana, which piled up 557 yards of offense last week against South Carolina State, struggled to move the ball against a North Texas unit that came into the game ranked last nationally in total defense and had allowed at least 41 points in every game this season.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said he was unhappy with his team's preparation this week and added his team had no answer for Dunbar.
``Their running game was outstanding,' Wilson said. ``They worked us pretty good.'
The Hoosiers were down 24-0 before Mark Murphy returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Edward Wright-Baker passed for 209 yards before Kiel replaced him late.
Kiel threw a 44-yard pass to Cody Latimer to bring the Hoosiers within 10 points. He added a 67-yarder to Kofi Hughes that cut Indiana's deficit to 24-21.
North Texas recovered the ensuing onside kick with 1:05 left to secure Dan McCarney's first victory since coaching Iowa State in 2006. The Mean Green's last win over a school from a BCS automatic qualifying conference was in 2003 against Baylor.
``The win is so meaningful to so many people,' said McCarney, who is in his first season with the Mean Green. ``It is a reward for the hard work done by a lot of people.'
North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson was 10 of 20 passing for 201 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Chris Bynes and a 32-yarder to Michael Outlaw that gave North Texas a 21-0 advantage with 55 seconds left in the first half.
The Associated Press News Service
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