Things were a bit closer than the UAB Blazers (3-1) would have liked by the end of the game on Saturday evening in New Orleans. Tulane (1-3) had clawed back from a double-digit deficit on two separate occasions and gave themselves an opportunity at the end to tie, but when the dust settled, UAB prevailed.
Things got off to an excellent start for the Blazers who were already playing in their third road game of the season. Quarterback Dylan Hopkins led his offense on a long, 15-play scoring drive that chewed nearly seven minutes off the clock to open the game. Hopkins connected with receiver Gerrit Prince to put UAB 7-0 in the first.
The rough start for Tulane’s defense spilled over to their offense when Green Wave receiver Jaetavian Toles fumbled on just the third play of the ensuing drive, giving the Blazers their first of four turnovers on the night.
The Wave’s defense stiffened up, though, and returned the favor by forcing a fumble of their own. Again, however, Tulane’s offense was unable to produce anything and gave the ball back over to UAB. This time it only took Hopkins one play. He hit receiver Trae Shropshire for a 65-yard touchdown to emphatically put his team up 14-0. By this point, the Yulman crowd was efficiently quieted.
One more Green Wave punt was followed by another long Blazers drive that ended in their third touchdown. What was supposed to be a good game between two G5 contenders was turning into a blowout.
Midway through the second quarter, Michael Pratt and Tulane’s offense finally responded. Pratt orchestrated a lengthy drive of his own that ended in a touchdown to tight end Will Wallace.
Momentum was starting to turn for the Green Wave. UAB kicker Matt Quinn missed a 37-yard field goal try shortly after the Wallace touchdown and Tulane again found the end zone on their next possession. Pratt’s second touchdown of the game, a seven-yard strike to receiver Duece Watts, pulled the Wave to within seven at the break.
The third quarter got off to a slow start for both offenses. Hopkins tossed an interception to Tulane’s Lance Robinson but the Greenies were forced to punt. Later, Pratt threw his first pick of the season to Starling Thomas V.
UAB finally broke the scoreless drought, however, when running back Jermaine Brown Jr. scampered in from nine yards out. Again the Blazers were up by 14 .
Tulane didn’t make it easy on themselves. After failing to convert on fourth down and throwing another interception in the fourth quarter, however, Pratt and company eventually got back on track. Toles redeemed himself from his earlier fumble and hauled in a 15-yard score to pull the game to 28-21. With just 1:57 to play, though, time was of the essence and the Wave needed help.
They got that help when kicker Casey Glover executed an onside kick to perfection and Tulane recovered. There was new life in the crowd now and the Green Wave had the chance to tie.
UAB’s defense buckled down and forced Tulane into their fifth fourth down attempt of the evening. The Wave, who had converted half of their fourth down tries up to this point, had no choice but to go for it here. Pratt took the snap and scrambled but, unfortunately for Tulane, took a hit and coughed up the ball. The Blazers jumped on it and sealed their hardest fought victory of the season.
UAB is looking scary right now and C-USA should be taking notice if they haven’t already. Head coach Bill Clark has his team rolling and Hopkins, who was making just his sixth career start, looked sharp. Shropshire and Prince did what they do and helped the Blazers convert 11 of their 18 third down tries. UAB put up over 400 yards of total offense and held Tulane to just 90 rushing yards.
The Green Wave, despite already losing their third game of the season, ought not to worry too much, at least not yet. All three losses have come to formidable, non-AAC opponents. Still, there are some things that need to be cleaned up. UAB dominated Saturday night in time of possession, holding the ball for over 37 minutes compared to the Wave’s 22.
The running game needs to get going as well. Ygenio Booker led the rushing attack with just 59 yards while the team’s usual lead runner, Cameron Carroll, finished with just 18 yards on five carries.
Up Next: UAB heads home next weekend to take on Liberty. Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM CT.
Meanwhile the Green Wave will open up conference play on the road against East Carolina. Kickoff for that contest is slated for 2:30 PM CT.