Today was another new experience for the UAB Blazers. They had senior day at home against a winnable opponent with an opportunity to salt away a program-record eighth win.
Granted, the crowd was a little bit limited due to some sort of metal bowl over in Tuscaloosa or Auburn or somewhere, but it was a beautiful day to tie up a regular season full of positives and surprises with a neat bow of predictability against a lesser opponent.
Next UTEP drive UAB’s Stacy Keely has his helmet pushed off by a UTEP offensive lineman, and instead of illegal hands to the face on UTEP, they call “participation without a helmet” on Keely. Later in the drive, the Blazers had a fourth and one and a second and goal, and in both instances they blitzed and lost track of tight end Josh Weeks.
Before you knew it, Weeks found himself with two catches for 43 yards and a touchdown after coming into the game with only four receptions on the season and none since September 23rd against New Mexico State. Meanwhile the Miners found themselves with a 7-3 lead, their first since their game against Western Kentucky.
Things kept plodding along until late in the second quarter, when the UAB pass rush got just enough pressure to get a little too much air under a Zach Greenlee throw and Broderick Thomas waited for it and ran it back to the UTEP 30. A touchdown pass up the seam to Collin Lisa and a two-point conversion run from Spencer Brown put the Blazers back on top 14-7.
The Blazers ended the first half with an interception in the end zone, but UTEP was fairly true to form in the first half. Greenlee hit on passes of 41 and 30 yards, and those two passes accounted for just over half of the Miners’ yards in the first half.
the second half started as slowly as the first finished, but the Miner defense continued to fall for AJ Erdely’s ball fakes, and a 14-yard scamper up the middle halfway through the third quarter, set up by several strong runs by Spencer Brown, extended the Blazer lead by another touchdown. Meanwhile, UTEP’s offensive line, despite the presence of future NFL draft pick Will Hernandez, continued to get dominated by the Blazers. When the third quarter came to a close, the Miner offense had just crossed the 150-yard mark for the game, despite already having 131 at halftime.
The Blazers turned a re-kick on a UTEP punt into a short field after a shifty return from Andre Wilson, then used a drive that started nearly in the red zone to add another score minutes later.
UAB’s offense was inconsistent all day long, with far too many plays that saw Erdely scrambling to no avail. The 28-7 final score is merely evidence of how much more UTEP struggled when they had the ball, to the tune of 77 yards of offense in the second half.
That said, the Blazers pulled off their eighth win of the season to set a new program record, and for the second time in their history, their final regular season game will not be their final game of the season.