By Alivia Moore
© Photo by UAB Sports
The UAB Blazers lost to first-time opponents, the Miami Hurricanes, with a 31-14 score Thursday at the Hard Rock Stadium, dropping them to a 1-1 record.
The show-down comes after a 45-35 Blazer victory against Central Arkansas, with UAB looking ahead to defeat a highly anticipated and tough opponent in the Miami Hurricanes.
“We were pleased with the win [against Central Arkansas], like any first game we had tons of things to clean up,” said UAB Head Coach, Bill Clark. “[It’s] Obviously good to get a win under our belt, and then get ready for this next opponent. Obviously, we have got a huge challenge going to Miami,” said Coach Clark, in a preview game interview.
The Thursday night show-down may have had safety measures in place such as a reduced 13,000 crowd capacity and social distance measures, but the feel of the game seemed just as lively as in previous seasons. The thousands of socially distanced attendees generated enough noise even without a generated cheering track; a feature many sporting events have in lieu of an emptied arena.
For Miami, this was a chance at a redeeming season after a frustrating 6-7 record last year. The Hurricanes underwent program changes bringing in new offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, and highly talented quarterback and Houston transfer D’Eriq King who, after Thursday’s game, now holds the FBS record for the 16th straight game with a rush-and-pass touchdown.
Overall, the Hurricanes displayed an impressive run game with 337 rushing yards while holding the Blazers to 80 rushing yards.
“I’m proud of the way we were physical and ran the football, said Miami Head Coach, Manny Diaz, in a post-game media interview. “That UAB team went to Tennessee a year ago and held them to about 300 yards of offense. So, to put 337 rushing yards against them [UAB] in an opener with a ton of mistakes is very encouraging to me,” said Coach Diaz.
Running back, Cam’Ron Harris also proved a standout acquiring 134 yards during last night’s game.
“The mission was today we was going to put the ball on the ground, we were going to run the ball,” said Harris in a post-game media interview.
In the first quarter, Hurricane errors proved advantageous for the Blazers. In a late first quarter kickoff return, a Miami fumble recovered by Jarrion Street was all the Blazers needed to capitalize. Quarterback Tyler Johnston III then threw a 16-yard touchdown to receiver Austin Watkins, Jr.
The Blazers looked promising towards the end of the first quarter with a 7-0 lead.
However, on a Miami 4th and one drive the following series, Cam’Ron Harris ran for a 66-yard touchdown.
“Shout out to the O-line,” said Harris. “I just had to be patient, I seen a ‘crease, I hit it, and I was gone.”
With a now tied seven all score, both teams looked to the second quarter. However, the Blazers began to fall apart. Miami’s debilitating up-tempo offense paired with Blazer defensive errors and a stagnating Blazer offense, pushed Miami to a 14-7 lead.
“[Against a really good UAB team], I thought our guys really looked relentless,” said Coach Diaz in a post-game media interview. There’s some things, again, we have to correct, but I thought all those three-and-outs in the first half allowed our offense to get the ball back and those snaps just start wearing down on the opposition, you could see that cumulative effect on those snaps and the tempo,” said Coach Diaz.
Running backs Jaylan Knighton and Cam’Ron Harris were key factors to Miami’s second-quarter lead after an 18-yard run by Knighton and a 16-yard run by Harris, placing QB King in the perfect position for a remarkable run-and-dive touchdown.
“To see people [our players] make plays, it felt good overall [too see], said Miami Hurricanes’ QB, D’Eriq King, in a post-game media interview.
But, the Blazers’ dreams of victory were not over yet. Running back, Spencer Brown’s 35-yard run gave UAB a fighting chance, putting them in touchdown position.
After a Hurricanes’ penalty, Brown was able to clench a 6-yard TD.
However, the Blazers’ dream was short-lived.
By the close of the third quarter, the Hurricanes held a 31-14 lead after two touchdowns delivered by tight end Brevin and Cam’Ron Harris. The errors and frustrations kept piling up for UAB, slowly ending in a 31-14 Miami victory.
“I think we did pretty good for the occasion, we just got to keep getting better,” said King.
Despite the loss, the 2018 C-USA Champions are more than capable to bounce back in their next game. The Blazers will return back to Alabama for a full bye week, with a trip to South Alabama coming soon on the 24th.
Edited by Ryan Michaels & John H. Glenn