By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
The University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers came out blazing during the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl.
From the opening drive of the game, where true freshman quarterback Tyler Johnston III connected with Offensive MVP Xavier Ubosi for a 70-yard-touchdown-pass, it was all Blazers for all four quarters.
While the Northern Illinois Huskies did get on the board with a touchdown in the first quarter, the game did not stay close for long.
The final score from Florida Atlantic University Stadium was 37-13. The Blazers finished the season 11-3 overall marking the teams first 11-win season in program history just two years after being reinstated.
This win was the program’s first ever bowl game, which was a victory.
“We talked a lot about making history. That’s what we sold these guys. We knew we were going to make history. We wanted to finish…” said UAB Head Coach Bill Clark. “I guess in our wildest dreams we would win a conference championship and then cap it off with a bowl win.”
Clark completed his first year at UAB in 2014 and returned with the team as the head coach upon UAB’s reinstatement in 2017.
The game day festivities began at 3 p.m. with tailgating, music by Lynn University’s Wolfhawk band and entertainment for kids.
Football fans filled tents for their respective schools and snacked on game day food before heading into FAU Stadium for kickoff.
This was the second Boca Bowl appearance for the Huskies, the first for the Blazers. Both teams won their conferences and accepted bids to play in the Boca Bowl.
UAB receiver Ubosi finished the night with three touchdowns total. In addition to the opening 70 yard pass, he scored a 46-yard-touchdown in the second quarter and a 66-yard-touchdown in the third quarter.
Blazer quarterback Johnston III threw for 373 yards with one interception and four touchdowns. Huskies quarterback Marcus Childers was held to just 179 yards.
“The offensive line, I definitely couldn’t do without them,” Johnston said. “They were always there for me. I believed in them and they believed in me.”
Ubosi set a Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl record with 227 yards receiving yards on seven receptions, three of which were touchdowns, also all career highs.
“After you win a game like this, you understand everything that’s been preached to us for the last three and a half years…” Ubosi said.