BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Facing one of the top Group of 5 programs in the country, Alabama A&M (0-1, 0-0 SWAC) could not keep pace with the offense of Alabama-Birmingham (1-0, 0-0 C-USA) as they dropped a 59-0 decision.
Junior quarterback Xavier Lankford played the majority of the game in relief, going 12-of-22 for 115 yards and an interception and led the Bulldogs on the ground with 10 carries for 42 yards.
He was joined in the backfield by sophomore running back Donovan Eaglin with 32 yards and senior wide receiver Isiah Cox anchored the receiving corps with 54 yards on a pair of catches, including a long of 29. Graduate wide receiver Brian Jenkins, Jr. led that group with six catches for 37 yards to round out the top offensive performances.
On the other side of the ball, sophomore safety Chancellor Smith came away with a team-high eight tackles, six solo, while junior safety Dennis Fisher had six tackles, five himself, and a pass breakup. Sophomore cornerback Elijah Eberhardt came away with an interception and senior defensive tackle Jamal Irby got into the backfield for a 10-yard sack.
Junior defensive back Marquez Beason added a breakup in the secondary, as did junior defensive end Phillip Hopkins, and junior defensive end Zareon Hayes finished with three tackles, two for loss, and a breakup.
Benefitting from A&M deferring the opening kick, the Blazers marched 70 yards downfield on their opening possession, taking just eight plays to do so. That stretch included picking up a 3rd and five from the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line and, two plays later, Jermaine Brown, Jr. breaking free for a 19-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead at the 11:18 mark.
The Bulldogs would go three-and-out on their first possession, but UAB would not wait to get the ball back to do damage as Charlie Goode broke through to block the punt and Damien Miller scooped it up for a 29-yard touchdown. Following a Matt Quinn extra point, that pushed their margin to 14-0 with 5:28 gone by.
A&M got the ball back after fruitless outings by both clubs over the next two possessions but didn’t keep it long as Alabama-Birmingham strip-sacked redshirt-sophomore quarterback Quincy Casey on the first play of the next drive. Following a 15-yard penalty for pulling players off the pile by the Bulldogs, they would go straight for the knockout as Dylan Hopkins connected with Bryce Damous from 25-yards out to stretch to a 21-0 advantage midway through the opening frame.
Alabama A&M would have their best stretch of the early going coming off that sudden change as they ran nine plays, one of which was a fake punt to redshirt-junior running back Harold Jemison, before faltering at midfield. It would be their turn for the defense to step up; however, when UAB got the ball back as sophomore corner Elijah Eberhard stepped in front of a Jacob Zeno pass for the interception.
It would not last though as the Blazers would get the ball right back but also not keep it long as Mac McWilliams snatched it out of the air at the UAB 22 and ran it back 78 yards for a TD, making it 28-0 with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
The second period would see A&M bridge the quarter with an 11-play, 55-yard drive to the UAB 23-yard line. Following a fourth-down stop to end that drive, the Blazers answered with a 29-yard strike by Hopkins to Tejhaun Palmer before Lee Witherspoon made a two-yard plunge on the next play to push to 35-0 at the 8:57 mark.
The defense would take command at that point until Alabama-Birmingham put together a six-play, 31-yard drive at the end of the half that resulted in a 51-yard field goal by Quinn to make it 38-0 at the break.
Coming out of the break the Bulldogs would go 11 plays and 40 yards in 4:27 to reach Blazer territory but that would be the extent of their success in the quarter. From there UAB used a 54-yard run by Brown to setup a four-yard TD run by Hopkins on the next possession and a four-yard TD pass from Zeno to Terrell McDonald several series later to make it 52-0 at 5:44.
Alabama-Birmingham would get the ball back with 2:34 to play in the frame and wasted no time, using just three plays to go 47 yards and capped it with a 33-yard scamper by Witherspoon to the endzone, extending to a 59-0 margin with 1:14 on the clock.
Courtesy: Alabama A&M Athletics