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Blaze carries a bowl reading "bowl eligible" up and down the sideline in the third quarter of UAB's 52-21 win over Rice.
Photo by Ian Keel / Photo Editor

Will Harris
Assistant Sports Editor

On Saturday, Nov. 4, the UAB Blazers faced the Rice Owls in a Conference USA west division showdown. Rice came into the matchup with a 1-7 record, while the Blazers needed one win to become bowl eligible.

Rice kicked off to start the game, but the kickoff went out of bounds giving UAB the ball at their own 35-yard line. The Blazers moved down the field with ease and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Spencer Brown. Nick Vogel added the extra point making it a 7-0 game.

After a short three-and-out by Rice, the Blazers capped off their next drive on a 43-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Erdely to Donnie Lee. Vogel added the extra point to go up 14-0.

On the ensuing drive, Rice started deep in their own territory. On a third and long, Rice quarterback Sam Glaesmann was intercepted by UAB’s Darious Williams who returned it to the Rice nine-yard line.

On the next play, Brown rumbled his way into the end zone. Vogel added the extra point to make it 21-0 with 5:12 left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Brown led UAB down the field again with a 42-yard run and a one-yard touchdown run. Vogel added the extra point to make it 28-0. However, Rice quickly answered with a 70-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Austin Walter. Will Harrison added the extra point to make the score 28-7.

After the Rice touchdown, the Owls attempted an onside kick and recovered the ball, giving them the ball at the UAB 40-yard line. On the ensuing play, Smalls’ pass was intercepted by UAB cornerback Brontae Harris and taken back 64 yards for a touchdown. Vogel’s extra point gave UAB a 35-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

Rice’s next drive ended in a fumble that was recovered by UAB’s Garrison Mitchell at the UAB 34-yard line. UAB answered with a strong drive thanks to running back James Noble’s runs of 20 and 17 yards. UAB ended the drive on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Erdely to Andre Wilson. Vogel added the extra point to make it 42-7. UAB halted a late Rice drive and went into halftime leading 42-7.

UAB stopped Rice on the opening drive of the second half and started at their own 20-yard line. The UAB drive ended in a five-yard play-action touchdown pass from Erdely to Wilson. Vogel added the extra point to make it 49-7.

Rice answered the UAB touchdown with a 6-play 80-yard touchdown drive that ended on a 9-yard run by Smalls. Harrison added the extra point to cut the UAB score to 49-14.

The next UAB drive stalled out after the Blazers failed to convert on third down in the Rice redzone. The Blazers settled for a 27-yard field goal by Vogel to extend the lead to 52-14.

Late in the game, Rice drove down and scored on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Smalls to wide receiver Aaron Cephus. Harrison’s extra point cut the UAB lead to 52-21. UAB ran out the clock and won the game by a final of 52-21.

Brown finished the game with 140 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Brown also broke 1,000-yard mark on the season, becoming only the fifth player in school history to do so. Erdely completed 20 of his 21 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns. His completion percentage for this game is a Conference USA record. Williams’ interception was his fourth straight game with an interception.

“I could not be more proud of these guys, our fans, our community and our city,” said Head Coach Bill Clark. “It just doesn’t get much better than this right now.”

UAB (6-3, 4-2 in conference) will now head to University of Texas San-Antonio on Nov. 11.

Will Harris can be reached at whrrs@uab.edu or on Twitter @kscope_sports.

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