By Alivia Moore
© Photo by UAB Sports
School records? Impressive over-the-shoulder receptions? Strong run plays? Heated player interactions … Dancing?
These events and spectacles filled Thursday night’s game featuring UAB at South Alabama.
For UAB, the night at the newly opened Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, AL proved glorious in their 42-10 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars.
The highly awaited game was featured on ESPN Network, a prime place to showcase UAB’s large plays and school record-setting numbers.
Amongst the team effort to carry UAB to victory, many stars arose with UAB running back, Spencer Brown and wide receiver Austin Watkins Jr. amid the standouts for the night. Brown set a UAB school record with 36 career rushing touchdowns. Watkins Jr. set a personal career high collecting 183 receiving yards.
“It feels good [to be the career leading rusher in TDs], but it feels even better to get the win,” RB Brown said in a post-game interview.
Within the beginning seconds of the first quarter, UAB quarterback Bryson Lucero, with his first career start after Tyler Johnston’s shoulder injury left him out indefinitely, successfully completed a pass to Watkins Jr. for 56 yards. On their first drive, UAB already had their first TD.
“We had some good looks. We had a good game plan coming in,” Brown said in a post-game interview.
The energy and tempo shown Thursday night seemed different from UAB’s previous game loss to the Miami Hurricanes two weeks ago.
With an unsuccessful initial Jaguar drive, UAB was able to quickly take possession and capitalize in 12 plays for another TD.
The Blazers were up 14-0, and the South Alabama Jaguars quickly seemed to be in deep trouble of maintaining a blowout loss.
“We took two steps backward tonight,” said Jaguars LB, Riley Cole, according to AL.com. “This wasn’t South Alabama Jaguar football. We didn’t start out like we needed to. But we’re going to get it fixed and come back stronger.”
But UAB’s Achilles’ Heel for the night were penalties. Fortunately, those penalties did not drive the team to a loss.
UAB was penalized for interference regarding an unnecessary tackle on the return. The foul cost the Blazers 15-yard penalty. Additionally, defensive line Antonio Moultrie was disqualified for a hit on the Jaguar quarterback that was ruled on field as clean, but later under review was identified as targeting.
The Jaguars were able to catch up with a 38-yard TD pass with Jalen Tolbert reaching over the UAB defender to receive the pass. On initial watch, the play was disrespectfully good.
Despite a successful onside kick to give them another possession, the Jaguars were unable to convert to a TD therefore forcing a field a goal.
Thanks to a 20-yard rushing TD by Brown, and 6-yard TD by Trea Shropshire the Blazers were able to score two more TDs in the second quarter.
Although the third quarter was scoreless, heated interactions ensued in its place. A punch was thrown resulting in UAB wide receiver’s, Rob Johnson Jr., ejection from the game. The high emotions, hope of getting back on a winning track and budding in-state rivalry between the two schools may have led to these altercations.
The last quarter was the icing on top of the cake with an interception by Noah Wilder, an incredible overhead catch by Watkins Jr., and a UAB team effort to physically push freshman Dewayne McBride against the Jaguar defense to a six-yard TD.
At one point during the game, UAB players danced on the sidelines.
For South Alabama, the mood was a little different.
Finish. That was the word the South Alabama Jaguars focused on ahead of their game against the UAB Blazers leaving behind their disappointing 27-24 loss to Tulane. However, South Alabama was unsuccessful in doing so against UAB.
“It’s very disappointing,” said South Alabama Coach, Steve Campbell, according to AL.com. “I thought we would play better than that. We had a hard time getting off the field early defensively, and offensively had trouble moving the ball there for a while. In the second half, we couldn’t generate any offense. It’s just disappointing.”
Edited by Ryan Michaels & John H. Glenn