UAB holds on to win Bahamas Bowl, 24-20

The Blazers celebrated Friday afternoon after defeating Miami (OH) in the 2022 Bahamas Bowl.
The Blazers celebrated Friday afternoon after defeating Miami (OH) in the 2022 Bahamas Bowl.(UAB Football)
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 3:19 PM CST
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NASSAU, Bahamas (WBRC) - UAB finished the 2021 season with a win in the Bahamas Bowl in their final game before the Trent Dilfer era begins, defeating Miami (OH), 24-20, in Nassau.

After the Redhawks took the opening kickoff into UAB territory, the Blazers defense forced Miami into a 4th-and-2 at the 32-yard-line. Aveon Smith’s pass fell incomplete, giving UAB possession.

Dylan Hopkins flipped the field when he completed a 42-yard pass to Trea Shropshire to get down to the Miami 22-yard-line. Four plays later, Hopkins connected with Shropshire again for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Blazers up 7-0.

Shropshire, the game’s offensive MVP, caught six passes for a 183 yards Friday.

UAB would take a 10-0 lead going into the second quarter when Matt Quinn knocked in a 42-yard field goal after the Blazers’ next drive stalled in Miami territory.

The second quarter was nearly scoreless until Miami’s offense converted on two fourth downs, the second from the UAB 35-yard-line when Smith rushed for two yards for a fresh set of downs.

On the very next play, Smith connected with Mac Hippenhammer for a 33-yard touchdown. The Redhawks’ extra point attempt was blocked by Michael Fairbanks, leaving UAB with a 10-6 halftime lead. Fairbanks was named the game’s defensive MVP with seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sack and the blocked kick.

With 7:22 left in the third quarter, UAB faced 4th-and-7 in Redhawks territory. Jacob Zeno passed up the middle to Brody Dalton, but the ball hit the field and gave Miami possession.

The Blazers defense then held Miami to three-and-out, but Starling Thomas muffed the punt and the Redhawks recovered it at the UAB four-yard-line. Kevin Davis then ran to the right for give the Redhawks a 13-10 lead going into the fourth quarter.

UAB had possession deep in Miami territory to start the final quarter of play. A 12-yard pass from Hopkins to Fred Farrier put the Blazers just six yards from the endzone. Two plays later, Jermaine Brown, Jr. retook the lead for UAB when he rushed up the middle for a three-yard touchdown, going up 17-10.

The Redhawks wouldn’t stay down, however, as they strung together a 12-play drive capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Kenny Tracy to take a three-point lead.

With just over four minutes left in the game, UAB took over on offense and Shropshire caught a deep pass from Smith and then ran for another six yards to make it a 49-yard catch on the stat sheet. The Blazers then called Brown’s number four consecutive times before the junior from Prichard, Alabama found 12 yards of running room to get into the endzone, putting UAB up 24-20.

Hopkins finished his day going 16-of-24 for 204 yards, a touchdown and a second-quarter interception.

Miami, with just over a minute and a half of game clock remaining, took over to try and retake the lead.

The Redhawks converted 4th down plays twice, one with five yards to go and another with four. With time left for one more play from the 15-yard-line, Smith completed a pass to Jalen Walker near the endzone, but he was tackled by Reynard Ellis just shy as time expired, giving the Blazers the win.

UAB finishes the 2022 season with a 7-6 overall record, 4-4 in Conference USA. Friday’s win was the third bowl win in Blazers’ football history.

The Bahamas Bowl is the final time UAB competes under the Conference USA banner as the Blazers will move into the American Athletic Conference this July before the 2023 season begins under new head coach Trent Dilfer.

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