Blazers come up short against Buckeyes
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- UAB has accomplished a lot this season -- except win.
"This gives us glimpse of how good we could really be," quarterback Austin Brown said after the Blazers did a lot right before falling 29-15 to error-prone 16th-ranked Ohio State on Saturday.
In many ways, the Blazers played on even terms with the Buckeyes while battling before a partisan crowd of 105,019 in Ohio Stadium.
They built a 9-0 lead, had a giveaway late in the half as Ohio State roared back for a 21-12 lead, then cut the deficit to 21-15 and had the ball deep in Buckeyes territory with a chance to win.
Yet still came up short a week after hanging around with No. 8 South Carolina for a half.
"To have a stretch at South Carolina and at Ohio State, that's a pretty tough stretch for anybody," coach Garrett McGee said. "We haven't won a game yet, but I think we've grown a lot. We've developed."
The Blazers, who came in as 37-point underdogs, won the statistical battle in first downs (22-20), total offense 403-347) and time of possession (by 8 minutes).
"Moral victories are OK, but we really wanted to come back with a W," said running back Darrin Reaves, who rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries.
The Blazers scored on special teams and started the second half by recovering an onside kick, but were undone by four chop-block penalties and a giveaway that led to a score.
Brown completed 21 of 35 passes for 196 yards with one interception, while Jonathan Perry hit on 7 of 11 passes for 63 yards before leaving after a quarter.
UAB came in with an attitude -- and a plan.
"We told our kids we were going after the first (punt), that we were sending everybody after that first one and would score a touchdown," McGee said. "It happened just as we planned."
The Blazers broke through easily and blocked a punt before it got to the toe of Ben Buchanan. Linebacker Jesse Parrish was credited with the block, with receiver Nick Adams scooping up the loose ball and running 20 yards for the touchdown.
After Ty Long's 47-yard field goal pushed the lead to nine points, the Buckeyes went 75 yards to score on a 1-yard plunge by Rod Smith.
But the Blazers came right back to make it 12-7 when Long made a 54-yard field goal -- the longest in UAB history and the third-longest by an Ohio State opponent at Ohio Stadium.
From there, however, things unraveled a bit for the Blazers. It took just 2:42 for the Buckeyes to grab a 21-12 lead.
Miller completed four straight passes and then covered the last 12 yards himself -- pirouetting to leave linebacker Greg Irvin grasping at air at the 7 -- to give Ohio State its first lead of the day.
Two snaps later, Brown tossed a quick pass in the right flat to tight end Kennard Backman, who was upended by Christian Bryant and Grant -- Backman leaving the ball on the ground where Grant fell on it.
Three plays after that, Zach Boren scored from the 2.
Long's third field goal cut the gap to 21-15 early in the fourth quarter. Then the defense forced a punt, prompting Ohio State's fans to boo loudly.
The Blazers drove from their own 29 to a first down at the Ohio State 28 before the drive faltered and Long missed a 47-yarder.
Quarterback Braxton Miller then scored his second touchdown of the game with 5:03 left and added the conversion run for the final 14-point margin.
McGee is satisfied by the effort, the efficiency and the mentality. There's only one thing missing.
"I like where we are," he said. "But we need to win, though. College football is about winning."