The bowl season began in dramatic fashion Friday as the UAB defense stopped Miami (Ohio) short of the goal line as time expired to hang on for a 24-20 victory in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau.
Aveon Smith connected with Jalen Walker on a 13-yard pass on the final play of the game, but Walker was tackled at the 2-yard line to touch off a celebration by the Blazers.
UAB (7-6) had taken the lead on the previous series after making a bold decision. With no timeouts, 1:35 left and facing a fourth-and-1 at the Miami 12-yard line, the Blazers opted against attempting a game-tying field goal.
The gamble worked out even better than UAB hoped for, as Jermaine Brown Jr. burst through the offensive line and scampered untouched for the 12-yard go-ahead touchdown.
Brown paced UAB’s offense on the day with 24 carries for 116 yards and two scores. Dylan Hopkins completed 16 of 24 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown and Trea Shropshire caught six passes for 183 yards and a TD.
The Blazers have won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history after winning the Independence Bowl last season.
Smith completed 15 of 27 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns for Miami (6-7). He also rushed 22 times for a team-high 50 yards. Mac Hippenhammer and Kenny Tracy caught touchdown passes.
The game featured four lead changes and saw UAB jump out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Hopkins connected with Shropshire for a touchdown pass and Matt Quinn kicked a 42-yard field goal.
Miami battled back and took the lead in the third quarter on a 4-yard scoring rush from Kevin Davis. The two sides then exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
UAB won despite losing the turnover battle 0-3. The Blazers lost two fumbles and threw a pick. Miami’s offense simply wasn’t strong enough to take full advantage of those mistakes though. The RedHawks converted just 4 of 14 third downs and were outgained by 118 yards on offense by the Blazers.
It was the final game on UAB’s sidelines for interim coach Bryant Vincent. Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer takes the reins of the Blazers as their new head coach this offseason.
–Field Level Media