By: Erik Evenson (Independence Bowl)
SHREVEPORT, La (Independence Bowl) – On a rainy and windy Saturday, the 45th Radiance Technologies turned in one of its finest games in a back-and-forth battle between the UAB Blazers and BYU Cougars. In what was one of the biggest victories in program history, UAB defeated No. 13 BYU 31-28 to earn their second bowl win in program history and first Independence Bowl victory.
Two of the top running backs in the nation dueled on Saturday, as UAB’s DeWayne McBride finished the day with 28 carries for 183 yards and one touchdown. BYU’s Tyler Allgeier compiled 192 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. UAB QB Dylan Hopkins completed an Independence Bowl record 83 percent of his passes for 183 yards and three passing touchdowns.
UAB got on the scoreboard first on their second drive of the contest. Quarterback Dylan Hopkins led the Blazers’ offense down the field on an eight-play, 60-yard drive. He completed the drive with a touchdown to tight end Gerrit Prince – his ninth of the season.
After BYU turned the ball over on downs in offensive territory, UAB running back DeWayne McBride exploded for a 64-yard rushing touchdown to cap a two-play, 67-yard scoring drive to take the 14-0 lead late in the first quarter. The 64-yard rushing touchdown was the longest rushing touchdown in UAB bowl history.
The Cougars answered with their first score of the game on the ensuing drive. BYU All-American running back Tyler Allgeier rushed seven times for 72 yards and a touchdown – gaining every yard on the BYU drive to make it 14-7. The rushing touchdown put Allgeier in the FBS lead for rushing touchdowns with 21.
BYU took advantage of a UAB punt to tie the game mid-way through the second quarter. Quarterback Baylor Romney sprung wide receiver Gunner Romney for a 37-yard reception to start the 50-yard drive, which was capped off by a two-yard Samson Nacua rushing touchdown.
The Blazers answered right back with Prince’s second touchdown reception of the game. His 10th touchdown reception of the season, it capped a nine-play, 78-yard drive to take the 21-14 lead. Quarterback Dylan Hopkins tossed his 20th touchdown of the season to Prince – his 12th straight completion to begin the game.
After trailing 21-14 at halftime, BYU opened the second half with a three-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 62-yard rushing touchdown by Allgeier. It was the second touchdown run longer than 60 yards in the game and is the longest rush in BYU bowl history.
UAB retook the lead, 24-21, mid-way through the third quarter with a Matt Quinn field goal. On the following UAB offensive drive, Hopkins threw the lone interception of the game to set BYU up in plus territory. Allgeier tallied his third rushing score of the game on that drive to give the Cougars their first lead of the contest.
The Blazers followed up with the game’s most-crucial drive – a 15-play, 75-yard drive that ate up over eight minutes of clock and ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Trea Shropshire. With just under nine minutes left, UAB held a 31-28 lead.
In the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, BYU gave one final push to the underdog Blazers. The Cougars drove the ball 45 yards to the UAB 28 yard-line, but in what ended up to be the deciding play in the game, the Blazers’ defense forced a fumble of Samson Nacua. UAB’s offense would not give the ball back as they wound the final 3:36 off the clock to upset the No. 13 Cougars.