BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - UAB capitalized on an anemic first half performance by Old Dominion's offense, and then held off a Monarch comeback attempt in the third quarter, to claim a 38-14 victory Saturday evening in a Conference USA game played at historic Legion Field.
ODU's offense finally began to move the ball with some consistency in the third quarter, but after digging themselves into a 28-0 hole, the Monarchs didn't have enough in their gas tank to come back.
UAB (6-1, 3-1 C-USA) is the defending C-USA champion, and is a tough team to beat at home. The Blazers have won 16 games in a row at Legion Field since UAB re-instituted football in 2017. UAB has also won 19 of its last 23 games. The win over ODU made the Blazers bowl eligible.
ODU (1-6, 0-3 C-USA) has lost six games in a row.
UAB outgained ODU in total offense, 435-150. It was ODU's third-worst offensive performance in its 11 seasons of football.
ODU trailed, 28-0, and had generated only 12 offensive yards with 56 seconds left in the first half, when Monarch offense finally began to click.
Messiah deWeaver began the drive with a 42-yard pass to Darrell Brown. But the drive stalled at the UAB 23 and Nick Rice kicked a 39-yard field to get the Monarchs on the scoreboard. He had a big assist from holder Bailey Cate, who took a high snap and placed the ball down perfectly.
Keion White got the second half off to a positive start for the Monarchs, intercepting pass from UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston III and returning it to the UAB 44.
Six plays later, with ODU facing another fourth down, Rice kicked a 23-yarder to trim the lead to 28-6.
ODU needed a defensive stop on the next drive but didn't get one. Johnston passed for 51 yards and ran for 15 more to lead a 75-yard drive that gave the Blazers a 29-point lead and appeared to put the game out of reach
ODU's offense replied with its finest drive of the game. The Monarchs used some trick plays, a 15-yard deWeaver scramble on third down and three UAB penalties to score their first TD of the game on a 1-yard run by LaLa Davis. deWeaver then passed to Steven Williams Jr. for the 2-point conversion to trim the UAB lead to 35-14.
But the Monarchs stalled again in the fourth quarter, and did not enter UAB territory again.
The game began poorly for ODU, as the Monarchs fumbled on their first two possessions, which led to two UAB touchdowns in the first 6:24.
Blake Watson returned the opening kickoff 42 yards on the opening kickoff, and then deWeaver passed 7 yards to Hassan Patterson on the game's first play.
But on the next play, deWeaver threw a quick pass while he was being hit by two UAB defenders that hit the ground. Game officials ruled it an incomplete pass, but it was ruled a lateral after being reviewed. Garrett Marino recovered at the ODU 31, and it took the Blazers just three plays to score on a Lucious Stanely 2-yard run.
The teams then exchanged turnovers, with Lawrence Garner recovering a Myron Mitchell fumble at the UAB 38.
Two plays later, the ball was punched away from deWeaver by UAB's Tony Fair, who recovered and ran 30 yards to the ODU 34.
UAB scored on five plays, all on the ground, with Stanley scoring from the 1 to make it 14-0.
UAB made it 21-0 three minutes into the second quarter, capping a 51-yard drive with a 14-yard TD pass from Johnston to Kendall Parham. UAB then made it 28-0 on a 74-yard, 13-play drive that ended with Johnston's 16-yard pass to Mitchell with less than a minute left in the first half.
ODU returns to Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Saturday night to take on coach Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic University. It will be homecoming for ODU. Game time is 3:30 p.m.
Notes: Game captains were Lawrence Garner, Isaac Weaver, Bailey Cate and Keion White … Messiah deWeaver started his first career FBS game … Tobias Moss forced his first career fumble in the first quarter … Darrell Brown had a career high four catches for 64 receiving yards … Keion White recorded his first career interception … Lawrence Garner moved into 10th on the ODU career tackles charts.