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UAB ambushes Marshall, 23-21

Marshall got a taste of its own medicine.

Last season the Herd was 0-7 and unexpectedly won three of its final five games. The Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, 1-6 entering Saturday’s game, turned the tables as they ambushed the Thundering Herd 23-21 in Conference USA.

The loss dropped Marshall to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the East Division. The Blazers are now 1-3 in the East standings.

The Herd was a victim of its own mistakes including a fumble on a first-and-goal situation, a halfback pass by Darius Marshall that was intercepted, and a missed field goal.

Marshall linebacker Mario Harvey created a break for the Herd when he forced UAB running back Aaron Johns to fumble the football early in the fourth quarter, then scooped up the ball himself and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown.

The play cut UAB’s lead to 23-21 with 11:45 left.

Harvey had 11 tackles and a sack to go with his fumble recovery.

The Herd squandered a key scoring opportunity in the third quarter when backup quarterback Brian Anderson fumbled the ball away on a first-and-goal play at the UAB 6-yard line.

The ball was at the one-yard line, but an illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back five yards.

The Blazers took advantage and marched the length of the field to score on quarterback Joe Webb’s 28-yard quarterback draw play with 14:53 left in the game. But Marshall’s Johnny Jones blocked the extra point kick and it remained 23-14.

After Harvey’s fumble recovery got the Herd within two points, the defense forced a UAB punt on fourth-and-25. The Herd was called for roughing the kicker, but UAB declined since it would not give the Blazers a first down.

Marshall took over at its own 33 with 9:28 to play and drove to the Blazers’ 19-yard line. On fourth-and-11, Ratanamorn’s 37-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 6:38 left on the clock.

The game started with a disaster as Chubb Small returned the opening kickoff just six yards. Darius Passmore was then tackled in the end zone on a flanker around for a safety.

Marshall managed to recover as quarterback Mark Cann hit tight end Cody Slate with a 20-yard scoring pass with 2:33 left in the first quarter. Ratanamorn kicked the conversion for a 7-2 lead.

The lead went to 14-2 on a 71-yard hookup from Cann to the speedy Passmore with 12:24 to play in the half.

Cann finished 16-of-26 passing for 237 and two touchdowns.

A penalty on the ensuing kickoff moved UAB back to its 7-yard line, but Webb engineered a 19-play scoring drive capped by Justin Brooks’ 3-yard run with 3:08 on the clock and it was 14-9.

Later in the quarter a 17-yard punt return by Kevin Sanders gave UAB the ball at the Marshall 46.

Webb hit Jeffe Anderson with a 31-yard pass to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Rash Slaughter with only 49 seconds left in the half. Webb and Slaughter clicked on the conversion pass and the Blazers led 17-14.

Webb was a one-man offense for the Blazers. He completed 15-of-28 passes for 217 yards and rushed 20 times for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Joe Henderson had 13 tackles for UAB.

Marshall 7 7 0 7 = 21

Ala-Birmingham 2 15 0 6 = 23

First Quarter

UAB – Safety (Anthony Barnes tackle Darius Passmore in end zone) 14:46

Mar – Cody Slate 20 pass from Mark Cann (Craig Ratanamorn kick) 2:33

Second Quarter

Mar – Darius Passmore 71 pass from Mark Cann (Craig Ratanamorn kick) 12:24

UAB – Justin Brooks 3 run (Swayze Waters kick) 3:08

UAB – Rash Slaughter 1 run (Rash Slaughter pass from Joe Webb) 0:49

Fourth Quarter

UAB – Joe Webb 28 run (kick blocked) 14:53

Mar – Mario Harvey 62 fumble recovery (Craig Ratanamorn kick) 11:45

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Mar UAB

First downs 18 23

Rushes-yards 30-82 47-215

Passing yards 285 217

Total yards 367 432

Com.-Att-Int 17-28-2 15-28-2

Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1

Penalties-yards 5-43 4-34

Punts-average 4-34.5 5-36.2

Time of Possession 24:50 35:10

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Individual Leaders

RUSHING–Marshall: Chubb Small 15-50, Darius Marshall 9-35, Mark Cann 3-6, Cody Slate 1-minus 1, Brian Anderson 1-minus 2, Darius Passmore 1-minus 6. UAB: Joe Webb 20-135, Rash Slaughter 13-54, Justin Brooks 8-17, Aaron Johns 5-7, Frantr Forrest 1-2.

PASSING: Marshall: Mark Cann 16-26-1 237, Brian Anderson 1-1-0 48, Darius Marshall 0-1-1. UAB: Joe Webb 15-28-2 217.

RECEIVING–Marshall: Darius Passmore 6-165, Bryan Milligan 3-47, Cody Slate 3-37, Darius Marshall 2-14, Emmanuel Spann 2-14, Chubb Small 1-8. UAB: Mario Wright 4-60, Jeffe Anderson 2-57, Rodell Carter 3-54, Zach Lankford 2-19, Mike Jones 1-13, Rash Slaughter 1-6, Justin Johnson 1-5, Justin Brooks 1-3.