UAB upsets No. 22 Southern Mississippi 34-31
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Ty Long kicked a 38-yard field goal with 3:04 left to lift UAB to a 34-31 upset of No. 22 Southern Mississippi on Thursday night that was preserved only after a series of laterals on the final play.
The Blazers (3-8, 3-5 Conference USA) earned their second victory against a ranked team, having beaten No. 17 East Carolina 36-17 in 1999. UAB was more than a three-touchdown underdog in this one.
The Golden Eagles (9-2, 5-2) pushed the ball across midfield twice in the final minutes but Austin Davis' fourth-down pass was broken up by Jamie Bender. Davis' run for what would have been a first down was negated by Jason Weaver's chop block, setting up third-and-20 from the Southern Miss 41.
UAB ran the clock down to 11 seconds before punting. The Golden Eagles had five laterals before the final play ended inside the Blazers 40.
Southern Miss, which had won its last eight games, can still secure the East Division title and a spot in the C-USA championship game with a win over Memphis.
Jonathan Perry completed 17 of 26 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score for the Blazers. Greg Franklin gained 85 yards on 17 carries.
Davis was 20-of-29 passing for 264 yards and touchdowns of 34 and 38 yards and was intercepted once. Jamal Woodyard ran 10 times for 95 yards and Southern Miss outgained UAB 523-425.
UAB has won three straight against Southern Miss after losing the first nine in the series. Eight of the 12 have been decided by seven points or less.
The drama endured well after the final second had ticked off. A short pass by Davis led to a couple of quick laterals and then a long throwback to the other side of the field.
Finally, the ball landed in the hands of 292-pound lineman Joe Duhon, who lumbered 27 yards across midfield before getting bumped out of bounds at the 39.
That preserved Long's second game-winner out of the Blazers' three victories. He also booted a 40-yarder with 21 seconds left to beat Central Florida.
The Blazers had been set up for more points on that go-ahead drive.
Perry hit a leaping Patrick Hearn for a 32-yard pass on third down to push the ball down to the 10-yard line. UAB lost yardage on each of the next three plays, though, including a pair of shotgun snaps bobbled by Perry.
The teams traded short touchdown runs in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter, keeping the game tied.
Perry set up Franklin's 3-yarder with a 31-yard pass to Nick Adams and two straight quarterback draws covering 22 yards. Davis tied it again with a 1-yard sneak on fourth down with 10:27 left.
The Blazers didn't give the ball back until they'd recaptured the lead with a drive consuming 7 minutes, 14 seconds.
Southern Miss squandered two scoring chances. First, Woodyard fumbled on the UAB 8 in the second quarter. Then, Danny Hrapmann missed a 37-yard field goal in the third that squandered a 15-play drive.
The Blazers overcame two successful gambles by Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora to claim a 24-21 halftime lead after Long booted a 29-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to punctuate a 14-play drive.
Southern Miss converted an onside kick and a fake field goal into touchdowns, but both teams had a pair of turnovers.
Davis threw touchdown passes to Balentine and Kelvin Bolden in the first 3:30, aided by the onside kick.
Fedora struck again when holder Peter Boehme scooped up the ball and hit tight end Ryan Hanks for a 10-yard touchdown on the fake.