Birmingham -- The glass slipper did not fit this time. UAB scored a fourth-quarter touchdown and the Blazer defense held on for a 13-9 Conference USA victory over Memphis here in historic Legion Field Saturday. Scott Scherer, making his second start of his career could not lead the team to victory as he did last week against East Carolina. The Tiger offense had negative yardage in the fourth quarter.
Ryan White, the all-conference kicker for Memphis had another field goal blocked. It was the fifth time this season the Tigers have suffered a blocked field goal. The 43-yard attempt came early in the second quarter and looked big after UAB overcame a 9-3 lead with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Obviously thats coaching. The responsibility falls on me, head coach Rip Scherer said about the blocked field goal. Thats embarrassing, its just plain embarrassing.
Memphis also had a 100-yard kickoff return by Ryan Johnson nullified by a penalty in the fourth quarter. We had too many mistakes on the kicking teams, said the coach.
After holding the Blazers to negative yardage in the third quarter, the Memphis defense gave up crucial plays in the fourth quarter, yielding the go-ahead touchdown with 8:41 to go and a 41-yard field goal with 1:28. UAB had 52 rushing yards and 38 yards passing in the fourth quarter. It was UABs first win against Memphis in three tries.
Usually in this game the team that plays the best wins and they did, said a dejected Rip Scherer.
Both teams had trouble moving the ball. Memphis ended the game with 186 total yards, but only 57 on the ground. Scherer completed 10 of 21 for 130 yards. He had one interception. UAB had 200 yards, with 56 coming on the ground
The UAB offense had Memphis on its heels in the first quarter behind junior quarterback Jeff Aarons short passes. Aaron, making his first career start, completed six of 12 passes in the first quarter and led the Blazers to a 44-yard field goal by Rhett Gallego. Aaron completed 14 of 27 for 144 yards in the game.
Scott Scherer hit Bunkie Perkins with a 32-yard pass to the UAB two-yard line in the second quarter. Scherer ran it in two plays later and the Tigers led 7-3 midway through the second quarter. No one scored after that and Memphis went to the locker room with a four-point lead.
The first half was the sort of defensive struggle that Memphis has become accustomed to this season. The Tigers managed only five first downs in the first two quarters, gaining just 47 yards on the ground. Scherer was 6 of 11 for 104 yards passing. Memphis did not have any turnovers in the opening half. Meanwhile, UAB could only manage 116 total yards in the half. Aaron completed 9 of 18 passes for 87 yards.
Memphis returns home to play Houston Saturday in the Liberty Bowl.
** It was a bad day for offensive football. Memphis had -7 yards in the fourth quarter. UAB had minus yardage in the third quarter.
** Ben Graves had a career best 64-yard punt in the first quarter. He averaged 43.1 on nine kicks.
** After seeing his streak of having caught a ball in 21 consecutive games end last week against East Carolina, senior tight end Billy Kendall caught a 10-yard pass in the first quarter.
** Dernice Wherry saw his first extended action since being injured in the Southern Miss game. Wherry has been unable to play in three games this year.
** Scott Scherer left the game with an ankle injury midway through the third quarter. He was replaced by Travis Anglin for the remainder of the drive. Scherer returned on the next possession.
** Memphis scored on a safety in the third quarter when a punt snap sailed over UAB punter Ross Stewarts head. Memphis scored in the same fashion last year in Birmingham against the Blazers.
** UAB has a new athletic director for the first time in 23 years. Herman Frazier was hired in August after Gene Bartow retired. Frazier spent 23 years at Arizona State, his alma mater, moving up to senior associate athletic director for the school. Frazier is the only African-American A.D. in Conference USA.
** UAB lost the coin toss for the sixth time in six games this year. Memphis chose to defer.
(You can write Dennis Freeland at firstname.lastname@example.org