The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers’ Reynard Ellis stopped the Miami University RedHawks’ Jalen Walker at the one yard line on the final play, as the Blazers held on 24-20 to win the Prime Minister’s Trophy in the HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl on Friday.
It was the second consecutive bowl win for the Blazers and their 50th win since returning in 2017. This game kicked off the bowl season.
Playing at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, the Blazers head coach Bryant Vincent made a gutsy play call to go for the fourth and one yard on the RedHawks’ 12-yard line. The RedHawks were up 20-17 with 1:35 left in the game. Vincent called a timeout and instead of going for the field goal for a chance to tie the game, he went for it.
He trusted Blazers junior running back Jermaine Brown Jr. with the task and two seconds later, Brown found a hole in his offensive line and ran to the end zone for the touchdown, to put his team up 23-20 before the extra point attempt was good to give them the 24-20 lead.
Brown ended the game with 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His quarterback Dylan Hopkins finished with 204 passing yards and one touchdown.
“We believe that if it is a yard or less, we have the offensive line, tight ends, quarterbacks and running backs that we can get that yard. It does not matter who we are against. If it is a yard or less, we are going for it because we believe in what we stand for and the players that we have.”
Winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the offensive side of the ball was senior wide receiver Trea Shropshire, who tied Western Michigan
University Corey Davis with 183 yards for the Bahamas Bowl record for most receiving yards. He also had one touchdown.
“If it was not for my teammates, I would not have been here. I want to thank the coaches for believing in me. The win means a lot to the program and it is a blessing to win the MVP award,” Shropshire said.
Securing MVP on the defensive side of the ball was the Blazers redshirt junior defensive end Michael Fairbanks, who had seven tackles.
The Redhawks marched the ball down the field thanks to a UAB penalty that moved the ball 15 yards with less than 10 seconds left. The RedHawks’ quarterback Aveon Smith made a good pass to Walker before the latter was brought down at the one yard line. Smith finished the day with 162 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Vincent was confident that his defense was going to come up big in the fourth quarter.
“The way this season went, I would not expect anything less. We lost five games on the road by less than a possession. As the season went, we started to finish games. To finish Miami here at the end and to be able to come through and finish them is something that our team has been built on for years. One of the things that we talk about is that we want to finish our opponents in the fourth quarter,” Vincent said.
The Blazers represented Conference USA and the RedHawks represented the Mid-American Conference.