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Ohio turns lights out on UAB’s dream return season with blowout Bahamas Bowl win

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The clock has officially struck midnight on UAB’s Cinderella season.

Ohio (9-4) jumped out to a 27-6 halftime lead and UAB (8-5) couldn’t get much closer than that the last two quarters, with the Bobcats heading back to the States with a dominating and impressive 41-6 win in the fourth annual Bahamas Bowl.  With the win, Ohio snapped a three-game bowl losing streak, winning its first postseason games since the 2012 Independence Bowl.  The win also improves Frank Solich‘s bowl record to 3-6 at Ohio and 5-9 for his career (he was 2-3 at Nebraska).

As they have throughout the season, Ohio did a significant amount of its damage on the ground.  The Bobcats, who came into the game 17th nationally averaging just over 244 yards per game, ran for 250 as a team on the afternoon.  Dorian Brown had himself a game individually, accounting for 152 of those yards — on just 12 carries — and four rushing touchdowns.  The latter number tied the single-game Bahamas Bowl record previously set by Western Michigan’s Jamauri Bogan in the 2015 game.

Brown, not surprisingly, was named the Player of the Game.

Quarterback Nathan Rourke also acquitted himself quite well, completing 12-of-18 passes for 185 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns in just three quarters worth of work.  This marked the first time since October that the sophomore had thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game.

In a losing effort, A.J. Erdely passed for 248 yards.  That effort was the third time in 13 games this season that he’s thrown for 200-plus, and served as the second-highest total behind the 321 yards the junior put up in a Sept. 23 loss to North Texas.

Despite the lopsided loss that was its worst of the year, what UAB has done this season should be applauded.  With a resounding standing ovation.

After the administration unnecessarily disbanded the football program in December of 2014 and then, under intense public pressure and alongside a massive fundraising effort, resurrected it less than a year later, the Blazers resumed football on the field in 2017 following a two-season sabbatical.  And what a remarkable return it was as Bill Clark‘s squad won eight games in the regular season, the most in the program’s history — topping the old standard of seven set in 2004 — and finished second in the Conference USA’s West division.

Today was just the program’s second-ever bowl game as the Blazers were looking for their first-ever postseason win.  While they didn’t find it, everyone involved should be proud of what they’ve accomplished this season.

Ohio having its first-half way with UAB in Bahamas Bowl

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If UAB’s going to put a winning cherry on top of the magical sundae that was its 2017 regular season, the Conference USA program has some significant work to do.

Ohio (8-4) came into its matchup with UAB (8-4) in the fourth annual Bahamas Bowl 17th in the country in rushing, averaging just over 244 yards per game.  The Bobcats are well over halfway to that number through two quarters of play as they’ve run over — and over the top of, on one occasion — the Blazers’ defense in taking a commanding 27-3 into the halftime locker room.

The Bobcats finished the first half with 146 yards on the ground.  Thanks in very large part to his 75-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, Dorian Brown led the Bobcats with 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

While the Bobcats are known for their ground prowess under Frank Solich, and showed as much the first 30 minutes, they actually scored two of their first-half touchdowns off the right arm of quarterback Nathan Rourke.  Included in that was Ohio’s second-longest scoring pass of the season, a 56-yarder from Rourke to Papi White.

Thanks to that somewhat unexpected production in the passing game, Ohio nearly doubled-up UAB in total offense in the first half (272-148).  The Bobcats also put up twice as many first downs at 14-7.

On a positive note, the Blazers will get the ball on offense to start the second half.