NASSAU Bahamas (AP) — Jermaine Brown Jr. rushed for 116 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Trea Shropshire had 183 yards receiving and a score, and UAB held off Miami (Ohio) 24-20 on Friday in the Bahamas Bowl.
UAB (7-6) won its second bowl game in a row — beating No. 13 BYU 31-28 in the Independence Bowl last season — and third in program history. The Blazers won their 50th game since returning in 2017 from a program shutdown.
Shropshire dominated the first half with 120 yards, and his second catch after halftime went for 50 yards to set up Brown’s 12-yard rushing touchdown on fourth-and-1 for a 24-20 lead with 1:31 left.
Miami converted two fourth downs on its final drive and a 15-yard penalty set up the RedHawks on the 15 with one second left. Aveon Smith completed a pass over the middle to Jalen Walker but the UAB defense came up with a huge stop as Reynard Ellis made a tackle at the 2 as time expired.
“It really comes down to everything this team stands for: we’ll fight til the very end, we’ll never give in, we’re tough, we’re rugged, we play for each other and we never give up,” UAB interim coach Bryant Vincent. “No matter what we’ve been through this year, it’s just the UAB way.”
After Miami took a 20-17 lead with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter, Brown fumbled it and the RedHawks took over at the UAB 28 before missing a 47-yard field goal. Then Brown redeemed himself on the next drive.
Brown carried it 24 times to eclipse 100 yards for the fifth time this season for UAB. Shropshire finished with six catches for 183 yards and a touchdown.
Shropshire had a 46-yard grab on UAB’s first offensive play and he capped the opening drive with a 10-yard touchdown. He added a 48-yarder on third-and-19 with 5:57 left before halftime to total 120 yards, while the Miami offense had 68 total yards at that point.
Dual-threat QB Aveon Smith passed for 162 yards and two touchdowns for Miami (6-7). He also carried it 22 times for 50 yards.
PLAYERS OPTING OUT
The nation’s leading rusher, DeWayne McBride, was not active after opting out of the bowl game. His 1,713 yards this season for UAB included 10 100-yard games and 19 touchdowns. The Conference USA’s player of the year was coming off a 272-yard game against Louisiana Tech.
The Blazers played their finale under Vincent, who led the team all season. Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer has been hired as head coach and was in attendance. The 50-year-old Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 during a 14-year NFL career. He’s making a big leap to the college ranks after leading Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, to three state title games in four seasons as head coach.
“I’m going to tell our players that I love them and I’m proud of them,” an emotional Vincent said after the game. “I’m proud of our coaches and I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”
Miami players and coaches were wearing patches and stickers of a pirate flag to honor Mike Leach, who died suddenly of a heart condition earlier this week.
Friday’s forecast was for a high of 85 degrees in Nassau, compared to 37 in Oxford, Ohio and 43 in Birmingham, Alabama.