BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In front of 39,165 fans, the third-largest home crowd in program history, the UAB football team outlasted Alabama State 24-19 on Thursday night at Legion Field.
It was the defense who made the plays down the stretch to clinch the victory, including a goal-line stand followed by a Will Boler interception on ASU’s final possession with the Hornets in UAB territory.
Garrett Marino had a career night with nine tackles and a TFL, while Jarrion Street added eight tackles and one of UAB’s three sacks on the evening. Along with his first career interception, Boler had four tackles and a pass breakup.
Wide receiver Myron Mitchell added the spark on special teams as UAB fans witnessed the Blazers’ first kickoff return for a touchdown in five years. Mitchell went 98 yards in the first quarter for a touchdown and led the team with 166 all-purpose yards.
Running back Spencer Brown had 77 yards on 23 carries. Quarterback Tyler Johnston III added 64 yards rushing and finished 8-of-19 for 114 yards through the air.
The first quarter featured 27 points in the span of 1:12. After forcing a three-and-out on Alabama State’s first possession, UAB took the ball straight down the field and Johnston III gave the Blazers a 7-0 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:55 left.
The Hornets though, responded with two touchdowns within 12 seconds of each other to take a 13-7 lead. The first was a 67-yard rush from Duran Bell, and following a UAB fumble on the ensuing kickoff, KHA’Darrius Davis found Tyrek Allen on the next play for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Mitchell gave UAB the lead right back with his 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to cap the wild scoring stretch.
The Blazers outscored the Hornets 10-0 in the second quarter and took a 24-13 lead into the locker room. The scoring came on a 46-yard field goal from Nick Vogel and a 23-yard touchdown pitch and catch from Johnston III to Kendall Parham with 4:39 remaining in the first half.
Alabama State scored the only points of the second half on a 7-yard pass from Davis to Joshua Knight with 5:31 left in the third. The Hornets’ two-point conversion attempts was no good, bringing the score to 24-19.
The Hornets had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter with first and goal at the 5-yard line, but the Blazers stiffened with their backs up against the wall as Marino, Noah Wilder and Will Dawkins all came up with tackles to keep ASU out of the end zone.
With one final attempt to take the lead, Davis had his pass deflected up into the air and intercepted by Boler with 56 seconds remaining as UAB was able to take a knee for the victory.
UAB out-gained the Hornets 290-260 and had the edge in rushing 176-145.
The Blazers extended their home winning streak to 13 games and now hit the road for a Week 2 matchup at Akron. Kickoff on Sept. 7 is set for 11 a.m. CST on CBS Sports Network.