UAB completes dream season with first ever bowl win

In 2014, Bill Clark was leading the UAB Blazers to a 6-6 record in his first year as head coach before the school announced it would no longer sponsor football. Instead of leaving for another job, which he would most certainly get, Clark remained at UAB and worked to build the program during its hiatus. 

The Blazers returned to the field in 2017 and in 2018 they won 11 games for the first time in school history and completed the dream season with a C-USA title and a  37-13 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Boca Raton Bowl. It was the first ever bowl win in UAB history. 

“We talk a lot about making history,” Clark said. “That’s what we sold these guys. We knew we were going to make history. We wanted to finish. I guess in our wildest dreams we would win a conference championship and then cap it off with a bowl win.”

In 2014 — what was thought as one of the best seasons in program history — the Blazers were lead by running back Jordan Howard, who currently plays for the Chicago Bears of the NFL. Spencer Brown has been the face of the Blazers’ rebirth. He followed up his freshman All-America season in 2017 with a school record 16 rushing touchdowns and 1,230 rushing yards. 

It seemed obvious from the very beginning on which team was going to come away with the trophy. On the very first offensive play, quarterback Tyler Johnston lll threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to receiver Xavier Ubosi. Four receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown is a enough to be considered a great game, but that was just a quarter of work for Ubosi, who finished the game with a bowl record 227 yards and the Offensive MVP award. 

Johnston III credited his offensive line for being able to pull that off.

“I definitely couldn’t do without them,” Johnston III said. “They were always there for me and they always told me ‘I’ve got your back’. I believed in them and they believed in me.”

The Huskies showed some life by maneuvering their way towards the end zone and scoring on a one-yard run by Tre Harbison to cut the Blazers lead to 10-7 going into the second quarter. 

The Blazers added two more touchdowns while the Huskies could only muster up a field goal. A 35-yard field goal by Nick Vogel made it a 27-10 game at halftime.

Of the 227 receiving yards that Ubosi amassed in the game, 182 of them came on touchdown catches. It was as if he alone broke the will of the Huskies. 

“Tonight was very emotional because Coach Clark preaches us out every day,” Ubosi said. “He’s a great leader and wants things done a certain way. After you win a game like this, you understand those moments and everything that’s been preached to us for the last three and a half years.”

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About: Tony Capobianco

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Sports Kave senior writer

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