UAB upsets No. 22 Southern Mississippi 34-31
Southern Mississippi couldn’t put away UAB or the division
The 22nd-ranked Golden Eagles jumped to a quick two-touchdown
lead, cashed in on a couple of gambles and still lost 34-31 on
Thursday night after a frantic final try.
Southern Miss (9-2, 5-2 Conference USA) can still secure its
first East Division title since 2006 and a spot in the C-USA
championship game with a win over Memphis. The Golden Eagles, who
had won eight straight, would have preferred getting it over
”They knew what was at stake, they knew what had to be done,”
Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. ”They knew we hadn’t
changed anything from the first week to this week, and it’s my job
to figure out why they weren’t ready.”
Ty Long kicked a 38-yard field goal with 3:04 left after a drive
that consumed nearly half of the final quarter, and UAB held
The Blazers (3-8, 3-5 Conference USA) earned their second
victory against a ranked team, having beaten No. 17 East Carolina
36-17 in 1999.
”We don’t get down. We just kind of roll,” Blazers coach Neil
Callaway said. ”Obviously, that’s not a good way to start. But
you’ve got the (two) turnovers, you’ve got the fake kick, you’ve
got all those things. We give up some yardage but we kind of find a
way to keep them out of the end zone.”
The Golden Eagles pushed the ball across midfield twice in the
final minutes, but Austin Davis’ fourth-down pass was broken up by
Jamie Bender. Davis’ run for what would have been a first down was
negated by Jason Weaver’s chop block, setting up third-and-20 from
the Southern Miss 41.
UAB ran the clock down to 11 seconds before punting. The Golden
Eagles had five laterals before the final play ended inside the
Blazers 40 with 292-pound lineman Joe Duhon bumped out of bounds
after rumbling the final 27 yards.
”They played better than we did,” Fedora said. ”We got
outcoached. I got outcoached and they did a better job than we did.
They had their players ready to play and I didn’t have my guys
ready to play, obviously.
Jonathan Perry completed 17 of 26 passes for 236 yards and a
touchdown and ran for another score for the Blazers. Greg Franklin
gained 85 yards on 17 carries.
Davis was 20-of-29 passing for 264 yards and touchdowns of 34
and 38 yards and threw one interception. Jamal Woodyard ran 10
times for 95 yards and Southern Miss outgained UAB 523-425.
UAB has won three straight against Southern Miss after losing
the first nine in the series. Eight of the 12 have been decided by
seven points or less.
The Blazers appeared to be set up for more points on that
Perry hit a leaping Patrick Hearn for a 32-yard pass on third
down to push the ball down to the 10-yard line. UAB lost yardage on
each of the next three plays, though, including a pair of shotgun
snaps bobbled by Perry.
The teams traded short touchdown runs in the opening five
minutes of the fourth quarter, keeping the game tied.
Perry set up Franklin’s 3-yarder with a 31-yard pass to Nick
Adams and two straight quarterback draws covering 22 yards. Davis
tied it again with a 1-yard sneak on fourth down with 10:27
The Blazers didn’t give the ball back until they’d recaptured
the lead with a drive consuming 7 minutes, 14 seconds.
Southern Miss squandered two scoring chances. First, Woodyard
fumbled on the UAB 8 in the second quarter. Then, Danny Hrapmann
missed a 37-yard field goal in the third that squandered a 15-play
The Blazers overcame two successful gambles by Fedora to claim a
24-21 halftime lead after Long booted a 29-yard field goal with 19
seconds left to punctuate a 14-play drive.
Southern Miss converted an onside kick and a fake field goal
into touchdowns, but both teams had a pair of turnovers.
Davis threw touchdown passes to Ryan Balentine and Kelvin Bolden
in the first 3:30, aided by the onside kick after the first
Fedora surprised the Blazers again when holder Peter Boehme
scooped up the ball and hit tight end Ryan Hanks for a 10-yard
touchdown on the fake.
”I would hate to go back and say I wish we didn’t score 14
points so that we are not relaxed,” Fedora said. ”We basically
didn’t have what it took tonight to win the football game.”