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UAB Hangs on to Defeat Louisiana Tech

The West Division is suddenly wide open

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 09 UAB at Southern Miss Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The west division is wide open after the UAB Blazers defeated the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 20-14.

The Bulldogs were without starting quarterback J’Mar Smith and leading receiver Adrian Hardy for the second consecutive game. The Bulldogs were held to 270 total yards by C-USA’s top defense.

Backup Aaron Allen threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the game, while Justin Henderson rushed for 63 yards.

UAB was slated to get original starting quarterback Tyler Johnston III back for this game, but instead used Dylan Hopkins. The freshman threw for 185 yards and a touchdown with one interception.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Louisiana Tech at Rice Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Both defenses played well. There were a combined eight three-and-outs from both teams. L’Jarius Sneed grabbed a fourth quarter interception for the game’s only official turnover, but there were three turnovers on downs in the game (not counting UAB taking a knee on 4th down on the game’s final play).

UAB kicked a field goal on its opening drive, but failed to pick up a first down on its next three. The Bulldogs took the lead early in the second quarter when Allen connected with Isaiah Graham for a 42-yard touchdown.

The Blazers retook the lead a few drives later on a Gerrit Prince reception from Hopkins, then added a field goal on their next possession. UAB led the rest of the way.

Tech tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter. After Sneed’s interception, the Bulldogs marched down the field, and Allen connected with Smoke Harris to bring Tech to within a score.

The Tech defense got the stops it needed, but the offense couldn’t capitalize. On the first play of the Bulldogs’ final possession, Allen found a wide open Israel Tucker for what could have been the go-ahead touchdown, but Tucker couldn’t make the catch. Tech would ultimately be stopped on fourth down, and the Blazers ran out the clock.

This game will be a major “what-if” for Tech. Besides the fact the Bulldogs had to play without two of their best offensive players, there were missed opportunities. Other than the dropped pass late in the game, Tech chose to let the first half time expire despite being on their own 42 yard line and having two timeouts. Even a field goal would have been huge.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 UAB at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UAB looked left for dead after losing to Southern Miss, but suddenly the Blazers are alive in the west. Southern Miss’s loss to WKU means Tech, USM and UAB are all tied for first at 5-2.

If UAB falls on the road to North Texas next week, Tech would still win the west thanks to a head-to-head win over the Golden Eagles. If Southern Miss loses to FAU, UAB would win. If all three win (or lose), there will be some complicated tiebreakers coming into play, and two teams will be unhappy.

Tech gets its stars back next week for a home game against UTSA. The end of the race in the west will be a photo finish.