UAB upsets LA Tech in dramatic fashion

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LA TECH AT UAB

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jonathan Barnes’ potential game-winning 29-yard field goal was blocked as time expired giving the underdog UAB Blazers a dramatic 23-22 win over Louisiana Tech at Legion Field Saturday afternoon.

“It looked like the jumper got it,” said Tech head coach Skip Holtz. “On the field, it didn’t look like there was a lot of penetration. They were calling their timeouts and they had a guy like 6-foot-8 out there. I told John to just sand wedge it. He didn’t have to drive it. It just looked like they jumped up and made a play.”

Tech (3-3, 1-1 C-USA) trailed all day. Missed tackles; costly penalties; and three missed kicks, including two extra points, were simply too much to overcome. The Bulldogs entered the game with only 17 penalties through five games. However, this day would be different.

“I don’t remember (ever having this many penalties either),” said Holtz. “There were a lot of them tonight. Ten. We are averaging like three a game. I think there were some tough calls out there. I will have to see some of it on film. The taunting penalty was foolish. The late hit out of bounds. We had a holding and a couple of offsides. It’s just very uncharacteristic of us.”

The Bulldogs struggled from the opening kickoff. After a three-and-out by the Tech offense, the Bulldog defense saw UAB use a nine-play, 61-yard drive to take a 6-0 lead on a 3-yard run by AJ Erdely. The extra point hit the right upright and bounced away, setting the tone for a game that would be riddled by extra point issues.

Following another unproductive drive by Tech, UAB returned a Brady Farlow punt 46 yards down to the Bulldog 14-yard line. This time it took UAB only two plays as Spencer Brown took a handoff off left tackle for an 11-yard run and a 13-0 Blazers advantage.

Tech finally found some offensive rhythm on its third possession. J’Mar Smith drove Tech 76-yards on 11 plays, finding Teddy Veal for a 16-yard scoring strike in the far back corner of the end zone. Barnes extra point made it 13-7 UAB with 4:51 to play in the first quarter.

The two teams traded field goals in the second quarter. Barnes connected from 39 yards away before UAB’s Nick Vogel split the uprights from 27 yards out. UAB led 16-10 at halftime.

The second half was better in some ways for the Bulldogs as the Tech defense held UAB to only seven points after intermission. However, Tech was flagged for seven second half penalties for 80 yards and yet the Bulldogs still had a chance to win.

After a scoreless third quarter, Tech finally found paydirt early in the fourth. Kameron McKnight scored on a one-yard run, capping an impressive 12-play, 85-yard drive. However, McKnight was flagged for taunting after the score, pushing the extra point back 15 yards. Barnes 35-yard attempt was wide and the game was tied at 16-16.

UAB answered, Erdely gave the Blazers a 23-16 lead on a one-yard run with 6:02 to play in the game.

Tech responded once again. This time Smith found DeJuawn Oliver for a 42-yard scoring strike with 3:32 to play. Barnes’ initial attempt at the extra point was good. But an illegal procedure penalty against Tech forced a retry that Barnes pushed wide right. UAB led 23-22.

With time running down, the Tech defense stood tall, forcing a three and out. The Bulldogs took over on their own 45-yard line with 2:08 to play. Smith then completed a 19-yard pass to Veal and a 23-yard pass to Boston Scott, giving Tech the ball on the UAB 13.

After two run plays netted one yard, Tech called a timeout with three seconds to play, setting up the potential game-winner. The 29-yard attempt was blocked and the game was over.

“It’s very uncharacteristic when you look at what John has done in his career,” said Holtz. “He has been perfect in the final two minutes of games. He missed the longer extra point. The taunting penalty was foolish and put us back on it. We just made some mistakes as a team. It’s unfortunate. I give UAB a lot of credit. They dropped eight in coverage and we struggled to run the football against a 5-man front. That’s our downfall.”

Smith completed 17-of-29 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns while Veal led Tech with five catches for 74 yards and one score. Scott led the Tech ground game with 48 yards on 14 carries while Jaqwis Dancy added 44 yards on five carries.

Brown led UAB with 165 yards rushing on 25 carries while Erdely completed 21-of-32 passes for 188 yards.

Tech gets next weekend off before hosting Southern Miss Oct. 21.

Louisiana Tech at UAB

Oct. 7, 2017

Legion Field

POSTGAME NOTES

  • Louisiana Tech captains were Jonathan Barnes, Jarred Craft, Teddy Veal, and Secdrick Cooper.
  • With the 23-22 loss, the Bulldogs fall to 3-3 on the season and 1-1 in C-USA play.
  • LA Tech now leads the all-time series over UAB, 5-1.
  • UAB won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.

OFFENSE

  • J’Mar Smith finished the game 17-of-29 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns.  It is the redshirt sophomores second straight game with multiple TD passes and zero interceptions.
  • Boston Craft led the Bulldogs on the ground with 14 carries for 48 yards.  It was the second-most rushes of the senior’s career.
  • Jaqwis Dancy came one yard short of tying his career high.  He had five carries for 44 yards.
  • Kam McKnight registered another goal line rushing TD, the third of this season and the 10th of his career.  His three touchdowns on the ground leads the team.
  • Teddy Veal led the Bulldogs in receptions for a fourth straight game.  The junior caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.  He has recorded a receiving TD in three straight games.
  • DeJuawn Oliver only had one catch but it was a big one.  It covered 42 yards and went for a touchdown, his first of the season and third of his career.
  • True freshman George Scott had a career-high two catches for 20 yards.
  • Center Ethan Reed and running back Jarred Craft each made their 20th straight start.
  • After going 3-and-out on the first two offensive drives, the Bulldogs found some rhythm that led to a 16-yard touchdown pass from J’Mar Smith to Teddy Veal, cutting the deficit to 13-7 with 4:51 left in the first quarter.
  • Kam McKnight broke it outside for a 1-yard rushing touchdown, tying the game up at 16-16 with 13:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.
  • J’Mar Smith scrambled and threw a deep ball up to DeJuawn Oliver who came down with a 42-yard touchdown.  The PAT was no good so the Bulldogs trailed 23-22 with 3:32 left in the game.

DEFENSE

  • The LA Tech defense held the UAB offense to 366 total yards.  They only allowed 138 yards in the second half and only allowed seven points.
  • The Bulldog defense has allowed fewer than 200 yards in the second half in five of six games this season.
  • LA Tech stopped UAB on a 4th-and-1.  Opponents are now just 2-of-6 on 4th-down conversions this season.
  • Defensive end Jaylon Ferguson made his 20th consecutive start.
  • Jaylon Ferguson came up with a huge sack, the lone TFL of the game for the Bulldogs, which gave the team a chance to win the game on the last drive.  He leads the team with four sacks this season and has 24.5 for his career.
  • True freshman Amik Robertson had a career-high and team-high eight tackles.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Jonathan Barnes went 1-of-2 on field goal attempts and 1-of-3 on extra-point attempts.  He had only missed five PATs in his entire career (now 192-199).
  • Jonathan Barnes connected on a 39-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 13-10 with 10:31 to go in the second quarter.  He is a perfect 10-of-10 on FGs this season inside 39 yards.
  • Israel Turner registered his first career kickoff return.  The redshirt freshman took the opening kickoff for 18 yards.
  • Jaqwis Dancy had a 30-yard kickoff return in the first half, the second longest by a Bulldog this season.
  • Brady Farlow and Davan Dyer each had three punt attempts on the day.  Farlow had a total of 116 yards with a long of 44 yards.  Dyer had a total of 127 yards with a career-tying 52 yarder.
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