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Foot injury to sideline UAB’s Brontae Harris for all of 2019

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Unfortunately for all involved, Brontae Harris‘ injury was worse than expected.

Monday, head coach Bill Clark acknowledged that Harris had sustained an injury to his left foot during practice the Thursday before, although the severity wasn’t yet known.  Friday, the Blazers’ worst fears were confirmed as the football program announced that the cornerback underwent successful surgery, but will be sidelined for the entire 2019 season.

Harris actually signed with Alabama A&M to play basketball before transferring to UAB and sitting out the 2016 season.  After starting four games in 2017, Harris started every game this past season.

After leading the Blazers in passes broken up with 11, he earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.

 

DT who transferred from Auburn, Colorado this offseason lands at UAB

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U-Haul’s unofficial college football poster boy for the 2019 offseason has settled on yet another campus.  For now.

Late last week, Jaunta’vius Johnson indicated on both Instagram and Twitter that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at UAB.  For further confirmation, the defensive lineman has since been added to the Blazers’ official online roster.

Earlier this offseason, Johnson took the first step in leaving Auburn by entering the NCAA transfer database and ultimately transferred to Colorado in mid-January.  Four months later, it was confirmed that Johnson had decided to leave the Buffaloes and reenter the portal.

For those keeping score at home, that’s two transfers and three schools in the last eight months or so.

A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2015 recruiting class, Johnson took a redshirt as a true freshman.  After missing the 2016 season because of injury, the 6-2, 326-pound lineman came back to play in a total of three games the past two seasons.  Two of those appearances came in 2018.

If Johnson, a graduate of AU, ultimately sticks at this latest school, he will have one year of eligibility remaining and carry immediate eligibility into the new season.

UAB caps best season in school history with first bowl win

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Sometimes the first play from scrimmage is a mirage for what’s to come, like Ted Ginn, Jr.’s opening kickoff touchdown in the 2007 BCS National Championship. Other times, it tells the entire story.

When Tyler Johnston hit Xavier Ubosi for a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of Tuesday night’s Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, it told you pretty much all you needed to know. Johnston would hook up with Ubosi for two more long touchdown passes throughout the night, and UAB blasted Northern Illinois, 37-13.

The win bolstered what was already the best season in school history for Bill Clark‘s Blazers. Just two years back from the dead, UAB had already secured its first conference championship and its first 10-win season; now, the program has its first bowl win to boot.

The Boca Raton Bowl was one of just three bowl games pitting conference champions against each other, the others being the Orange (SEC vs. Big 12) and Rose (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) bowls.

UAB (11-3) came into the game averaging less than 200 passing yards per game, but the redshirt freshman Johnston went off for easily the best game of his young career, hitting 17-of-28 passes for 373 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. The bulk of the damage went to Ubosi, who snared seven passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Ubosi entered the game with 28 grabs for 610 yards and five touchdowns, including four catches for 24 yards in his two most recent games.

After the 70-yard score put UAB up 7-0 (and, it turns out, for good), the Johnston-to-Ubosi connection put the game away for good with 5:11 to go in the second quarter with a 46-yard strike that gave the Blazers a 24-10 lead.

A 66-yard bomb at the 5:15 mark of the third quarter concluded Ubosi’s night and gave UAB a 34-13 lead. Johnston’s other touchdown pass was a 3-yard shovel to running back Spencer Brown at the 12:08 mark of the second quarter, turning a 10-7 UAB lead back into a comfortable 10-point spread.

As the score indicates, Northern Illinois (8-6) struggled to get anything going offensively. Marcus Childers completed 22 of his 29 passes but gained just 179 yards on those completions. NIU entered the night with the nation’s 118th most efficient passing attack, so a 6.2 yards per attempt average wouldn’t necessarily spell doom as long as the Huskies managed to run the ball, but that was a struggle as well. Against UAB’s top-20 rushing defense, NIU mustered just 108 yards on 44 carries. Tre Harbison tied Childers for the team lead with 35 yards (he had a team-high six yards at halftime) and scored the Huskies’ lone touchdown, a 1-yarder to pull them within 10-7 in the final minute of the first quarter.

Given a chance to add a cosmetic score midway through the fourth quarter, Jordan Nettles fumbled a 4th-and-goal run out the side of the end zone.

Big passing plays put UAB up on Northern Illinois

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If UAB was to beat Northern Illinois in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday night, it was supposed to happen on the ground, where the Blazers’ top-30 running game would grind out an advantage over the Huskies’ No. 3-ranked yards per carry defense to secure a tight, hard-fought win. UAB, with its No. 100-ranked passing offense, certainly wasn’t supposed to go bombs away on the Huskies.

But Bill Clark‘s team flipped that script on the very first play, when Tyler Johnston hit a streaking Xavier Ubosi for a 70-yard touchdown pass.

After a 25-yard Nick Vogel field goal and a Northern Illinois touchdown, UAB pushed its lead back to 10 when Johnston flipped to Spencer Brown for a 3-yard shovel pass score at the 12:08 mark of the second quarter.

Then, after an NIU field goal pulled the Huskies back within a score at 17-10, Johnston again found Ubosi for a long score, this one a 46-yarder, to push UAB in front 24-10.

Johnston is well on his way to his best night of the year, hitting 13-of-20 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns, while Ubosi hauled in six catches for 161 yards and two scores.

Instead of cutting into its 14-point deficit just before the halftime gun, the NIU offense helped increase it. Marcus Childers was sacked and fumbled away the ball at his own 31-yard line with 2:13 left in the half, setting up a 34-yard Vogel field goal to push the UAB lead to 27-10 as the first half expired.

NIU’s touchdown came on a 1-yard Tre Harbison run in the final minute of the first quarter, capping a 9-play, 59-yard drive. He was NIU’s leading rusher with six yards on four carries.

After slow start, UAB takes halftime lead in Conference USA championship game

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Looking for the first conference championship in school history, UAB is leading Middle Tennessee at halftime of the Conference USA championship game, 24-16. UAB had scored 21 straight points in the half before Middle Tennessee closed out the first half with a field goal.

The two teams traded field goals to open the game, and Middle Tennessee tacked on another field goal to take a 6-3 lead on the third offensive possession of the game. Middle Tennessee extended their lead with Brent Stockstill connected with Tavares Thomas on a fourth-and-four play on the UAB 19-yard line for a score.

UAB answered the first touchdown of the game with a touchdown drive of their own. The Blazers took 16 plays to travel 75 yards to get in the end zone. Spencer Brown capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to bring UAB within three points after the extra point attempt by Nick Vogel. UAB took the lead with just over four minutes to play in the half with Tyler Johnston finding a streaking Andre Wilson for a 40-yard touchdown.

UAB added to their lead less than a minute later by turning a Stockstill interception into a short touchdown run by Johnston three plays later.

This is certainly still anyone’s game at halftime. UAB will get the ball to start the second half.