After jumping out to a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter, Louisiana Tech was the victim of a fake punt, personal foul and fumbled punt over a 10-minute stretch that saw UAB grab the momentum and the eventual 52-38 in at Protective Stadium Saturday afternoon.
UAB rushed for 295 yards in the game, including 210 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries for Blazers running back DeWayne McBride.
“I did not think we tackled very well in the first half, and it got worse in the second half,” said Tech head coach Skip Holtz. “The tackling was as bad as I’ve seen. We talked the last week, the game was about stopping the run and running the ball. We had a good rushing output, but we were not able to stop the run. That ultimately was the difference in the game.”
LA Tech (2-7, 1-4 C-USA) withstood an opening TD drive by UAB (6-3, 4-1 C-USA) by scoring on three straight drives engineered by freshman quarterback JD Head who was making his first career first in place of injured Austin Kendall.
The tying score started after an interception by Jaiden Cole and ended with Head finding Smoke Harris out in the flat who scampered into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.
The two connected again on the following drive, this time an 18-yard pass over the middle to go up 14-7 with 14:07 to go in the second quarter. The lead grew to 21-7 as Greg Garner punched it in from 1-yard out, capitalizing on a muffed kickoff return by the Blazers.
LA Tech was poised to get the ball back after stopping UAB on a three-and-out, but the Blazers executed a fake punt to pick up the first down. And from then on, the momentum was almost entirely on the side of the home team.
UAB scored 17 points the rest of the quarter to regain the lead at 24-21 at halftime. And the scoring continued into the second half as the Blazers pounded the ball on the ground, anchored by McBride.
The Bulldogs found some late offense though, getting a 21-yard field goal from Jacob Barnes and a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Head, which ultimately cut the deficit down to 38-31 with still 6:45 to go in the game.
However, UAB quarterback Dylan Hopkins scrambled to pick up a 3rd-and-9. Two plays later, McBride ripped off a 29-yard touchdown. Fellow running back Lucious Stanley put the game out of reach less than two minutes later with a 38-yard rushing TD.
UAB outgained LA Tech, 477-346, with 295 of those yards coming on the ground. Head finished with 20 completions for 196 passing yards and three scores (two through the air and one on the ground). His favorite target, Smoke Harris, registered a career-high nine receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
Photo: Darrell James
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