Blazers dominate in opening game shutout 31-0 over Jacksonville State


Tyler Luong, Staff Writer

Senior quarterback Tyler Johnston III’s terrific passing display led the way for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s overwhelming victory against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Johnston’s pinpoint passing in Wednesday night’s game had him finishing with two touchdowns, along with a total of 320 yards on 17 out of 21 attempts.

Side by side with Johnston’s great play were the stellar performances from the rest of the UAB offense. Receivers Trea Shropshire, Gerrit Prince, and RaJae’ Johnson-Sanders all scored once for UAB. Backup quarterback Dylan Hopkins and running back Jermaine Brown Jr. also recorded a touchdown apiece. 

It was a slow start to the game, with neither team gaining ground over the other. It was a particularly bad opening quarter for the Blazers, however.

Winning the coin toss, the Blazers elected to have the Gamecocks receive first. The Blazers would go on to commit a personal foul right after kickoff, giving the Gamecocks a 15-yard advantage even before any time had elapsed. Subsequently, they would go on to fumble the ball on their first possession of the game after a hard hit from JSU’s Marshall Clark. 

Despite the less than spectacular start for UAB, the Gamecocks could never capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes. JSU themselves would go on to commit numerous fouls throughout the game at the worst times, thus limiting their momentum.

Rallying back from their disastrous start to the game, the Blazers would come back and strike first with a score towards the end of the first half. This drive came off the back of two big momentum-shifting plays, a 46-yard reception by Johnson-Sanders and a 30-yard reception by Ryan Davis. UAB would tack on three more before the end of the half coming off of a field goal.

A quick touchdown by the Blazers two minutes into the third put them into a comfortable position. Although still scoreless at this point, JSU would continue to play hard with cornerback George Steele, forcing another fumble onto the Blazers. The Gamecocks would never find themselves in a position to threaten UAB for the rest of the game.

A series of costly penalties by the Gamecocks impeded their efforts anytime they gained ground. By the end of the third, the JSU offense had picked up eight violations. From then on, the Blazers would pick up two more touchdowns to extend the lead 31-0, finally putting the game away for good.

Wednesday night’s game was the sixth time these in-state rivals have met on the field. Both teams will play their next games on Sep 11. JSU will look to bounce back against Florida State, while UAB will try to continue its streak against the Georgia Bulldogs.