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November 21, 2013

Blazers Fall in OT 37-34

UAB took Rice into overtime but just didn't have enough to get over the hump and fell to the Owls 37-34 on a one yard Luke Turner run in the first overtime. Rice won the toss at the start of overtime and chose to go on defense first. The Blazers scored on a 43 yard field goal by Ty Long but were unable to stop Rice when the ball went to the Owls.

The Blazers trailed at the end of the first half 17-7 and just couldn't seem to get untracked on the field or with the coaching staff. At the end of half the UAB offense had only produced 88 yards in total offense. The lone Blazer score came when Greg Franklin caused a fumble that Jordan Petty returned to the one yard line. Darrin Reaves finished the job with a one yard plunge.

Rice won the opening coin toss and marched down for a 47 yard score to take an early 3-0 lead. On the ensuing series UAB faced a 4th and one at their own 49 yard line and head coach Garrick McGee chose to go for it, though only down three and just barely past the midway point in the first quarter. The run play was stuffed for a one yard loss and the Owls took advantage of the short field and drove 48 yards on just eight plays to take a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Following the Reaves touchdown that pulled UAB to within a field goal the Blazer defense stopped the Owls forcing a punt with about 90 seconds remaining in the half. JJ Nelson made a fair catch on the UAB nine yard line. Even though the Blazers would receive the second half kick-off McGee chose not to run out the clock.

The Blazers called three consecutive pass plays, two of which were incomplete and the other saw back-up quarterback Austin Brown scramble out of the pocket and run out of bounds stopping the clock. In three plays the Blazers ran about 20 seconds off the clock and were forced to punt.

Rice struck quickly traveling 69 yards in just 31 seconds to take a 17-7 lead into the dressing room.

When asked about the thought process that went into calling the three pass plays that late in the half and that deep in Rice territory McGee declined to offer an explanation saying he was "focused on the fourth quarter and overtime" and could not talk about the first half. He indicated he would address the odd play calls during his Monday press conference.

UAB woke up in the second half. The Blazers came out and scored two quick touchdowns on another one yard run by Reaves and on a 14 yard run by Jonathan Perry to take a 21-17 lead.

But Rice answered with two scores of their own to retake and then extend their lead. The first was an 18 yard pass from Taylor McHargue to Jeremy Eddington to put the Owls back on top 24-21. Mid way through the fourth quarter Jawon Davis who rushed for 130 yard on the night pushed the Rice lead to 31-21 with a two yard scoring run.

UAB wasn't ready to fold up the tent however and the Blazers came roaring back with two more scores to tie the game. The first was a 20 yard pass from Perry to Darius Powell to pull the Blazers within three. Long connected on a 24 yard field goal with 37 seconds to play to force overtime.

As mentioned earlier Long connected on a 43 yard field goal on UAB's possession - but Rice had a little more going for it in the overtime period ending the game with a one yard run by Luke Turner.

In his postgame remarks McGee said he was proud of how the team hung in with Rice and how hard they had played and fought back when the Owls retook the lead in the second half.

He also alluded to a lot of issues the team had been forced to work through this season and how proud he was for that. He chose not to discuss any of the issues he seemed troubled about - but he did state he was not referring to injuries.

Once again UAB played a good close game. The Blazers were outmanned by a team that McGee thinks will play in the C-USA championship game. UAB does not have the successful experience to know how to win a game like this and they continue to be stymied by questionable play calling that, in this game, put the team in a first half hole that may have been the difference in winning and losing.



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