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Bahamas: UAB 24, Miami (OH) 20

UAB just needed its defense to make a stop with the goal line on their backs as Miami (OH) wide receiver Jalen Walker was en route to the end zone for a last-second touchdown. The Blazers wrapped up Walker and brought him to the ground at the 2-yard line, sealing a 24-20 victory in an epic edition of the Bahamas Bowl.

It was a win for UAB that came with mixed emotions as interim coach Bryant Vincent, who took over in July following the retirement of Bill Clark, was victorious in his final game at the helm. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, there was Trent Dilfer, UAB’s next head coach, accepting the speech and rooting for the team he will inherit as the program turns the page from 2022 to 2023.

UAB is also without star running back Dewayne McBride after the NCAA’s leading rusher and Conference USA Player of the Year announced shortly before the game that he would not play. There were no signs early on that McBride’s absence would play a role in the final score, as backup running back Jermaine Brown was more than capable of being effective with a bigger workload and the Blazers jumped out to a 10-0 lead. But Miami scored a spectacular touchdown just before halftime to cut that lead to 10-6 and give the RedHawks some momentum heading into the locker room. It was the first of two touchdowns by Miami quarterback Aveon Smith, both of whose scores were impressive catches.

UAB miscues nearly put the game away in the second half as the Blazers hit both late in the third quarter to pull within a one-play touchdown for Miami before losing to the Blazers with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. back 20-17. But the Blazers’ defense, as it did last game, stood tall and forced a field goal attempt after that fumble to give the UAB offense one more chance to tie the game or go ahead. Brown was the star of the drive and the star of the game, scoring his second touchdown of the day and capping off a 24-carry, 116-yard performance.

Needing a TD to win, Miami’s recent drive was a flurry. The RedHawks recorded 12 plays, multiple penalties and two fourth-down conversions. But in the end, it was that last fight that allowed UAB to hang on, giving the Blazers a win in the same bowl game they first appeared in at the end of the program’s first season in 2017, returning to the field after the program. was closed.

It’s a fitting end to a great era of UAB football as the Blazers turn the page from the Bill Clark era to the Trent Dilfer era and from being in Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. The last five years have included multiple bowl bids, two conference championships and three conference title game appearances. Now it’s up to Dilfer and the rest of this UAB team to try and match those results in the AAC, and the best news for the Blazers comes from the fight they showed in the Bahamas and what it says about the current state of this team. .

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