In a game not short on drama, the Rice Owls survived 30-24 against the heavily favored UAB Blazers in Birmingham on Saturday.
While the Blazers had the higher total yardage total with 445 compared to Rice’s 346, a whopping ten penalties for 108 yards did UAB no favors. Though, depending on which section of C-USA Twitter you find yourself buried in, description of the officiating in this game differed.
To Rice’s credit, they dominated the time of possession by running the ball 48 times, holding the rock for 38:01. The Owls also were perfect on fourth down, converting five out of five chances on fourth down.
Both teams turned the ball over twice over he course of the game, with Rice losing two fumbles and the Blazers losing one fumble as well as throwing one interception.
For Rice, quarterback Wiley Green turned in perhaps the best game of his college career with 17 completions on 22 attempts for 205 yards and three touchdowns. The three TDs were a career high and the 205 yards were his second highest career total. Green threw for 313 yards in a loss to UTEP back in 2018.
Green’s favorite target in this one was August Pitre III with six catches for 108 yards with one touchdown catch. Jake Bailey also chipped in six catches for 45 yards.
Both teams looked surprisingly even through the first quarter with both teams scoring two touchdowns, but Rice missed his second PAT attempt of the game, allowing UAB to take a 14-13 lead. In the second quarter, Green found Pitre from 11 yards out to give the Owls the 201-14 lead at the half.
Green threw his third touchdown in the third quarter with a one-yard strike to tight end Jaeger Bull. UAB countered on their next possession with a 72-yard touchdown pass to Gerrit Prince from Dylan Hopkins. The two sides then were at a stalemate until Rice made a 27-yard field goal with about six minutes left in the game. UAB would follow up with a field goal of their own on the next drive.
Rice’s final possession of the game would result in a punt, giving UAB a chance to win it with just over two minutes left. Hopkins looked to find Trea Tropshire for a forty yard score to give UAB the win, but it was called back due to holding. UAB head coach Bill Clark gave a passionate protest to referees, which resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because he ran onto the field to do so. This set up a 3rd and 35 from the UAB 35 and the Blazers would not find the end zone again before the clock ran out.
With the win, the Owls improve to 3-4 and perhaps ease Mike Bloomgren’s mind with some positive momentum going into next week’s home game against North Texas.
“I think that the team on the other sideline maybe didn’t think we were worth being on the same field as them and we showed them otherwise,” Bloomgren said following his team’s win.
UAB now enters a bye week, with two weeks to prepare for Marshall on November 13.
.@RiceFootball Coach Mike Bloomgren (@mbloom11) on ESPN after the Owls upset UAB 30-24: “UAB is the standard. They won the conference 2 out of the last 3 years.They’ve been the bully.We wanted to come in here & give them a taste of their own medicine…I’m super proud of our kids” pic.twitter.com/1hUgY7Yf5M— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) October 23, 2021