The UAB Blazers (4-2, 2-0 C-USA) saw the nation’s third-longest home winning streak of 21 games come to an end with a 24-20 loss to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on Friday, Oct. 23 at Legion Field in Birmingham.
“We knew this time would come at some time,” UAB head coach Bill Clark said in a press conference. “We didn’t want it to come now. It felt like we were really in control most of the game. You have to give them credit, they never quit fighting us. They went for it on a big fourth down in their own territory and we didn’t find a way to get that stop. Offensively, we got the ball back and moved it, the pick was a big deal. You don’t want to blame it on one play, we look back at a couple of plays throughout the game. Two good teams though.”
UAB relied heavily on senior running back Spencer Brown and the running game throughout the second half, but would eventually come up short in the contest due to a late interception.
Brown had rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns — setting the program record for total touchdowns with 40 — up until the point of the late pick thrown by quarterback Bryson Lucero.
“You feel like you’ve run the ball well and it’s time to take a shot,” Clark said. “We thought it was there.”
Based solely on stats, the Blazers thrashed Louisiana in almost every category aside from penalties and turnovers. UAB held Louisiana to 286 total yards, extending its streak of allowing less than 200 passing yards in each contest this season, but also allowed a 100-yard kickoff return score by Ragin’ Cajun running back Chris Smith in the final minute of the first half.
Despite possessing a double-digit lead halfway through the third quarter, UAB allowed a touchdown with 19 seconds left in the first half with the opposition set to receive the second-half kickoff — a situation a football team never enjoys being in.
“We covered the kick well all night up until that point,” Clark said. “We were worried about that guy (Smith) all night. We’ve kicked it so well, we decided not to squib it. Hindsight is 20/20 so I wish we would have. We responded back in the second half with a 10-point lead and should have held on to it.”
In terms of penalties, the Blazers were flagged 10 times for 90 yards against Louisiana. UAB was called for five procedure penalties that aided in stalling offensive momentum, two defensive penalties that extended Ragin’ Cajun drives and three personal fouls with two coming on defensive drives that resulted in 10 points for Louisiana.
Clark admitted that those infractions posed a problem throughout the game.
“We don’t want penalties, that’s for sure,” Clark said.
Watching the win streak come to an end is never enjoyable, but the team is set to grow from this experience and finish the season strong.
“We knew that is what it was going to be,” Clark said. “It is like a bowl game or playoff. We knew it was going to be tough. Sometimes matchups are good. Sometimes things are good for them. Sometimes things are good for us. We felt that it would probably come down to the fourth quarter. We will grow from this.”
The Blazers will return to action at Louisiana Tech next weekend.