Montgomery – The UAB defense picked up where it left off in 2020, with a season-opening 31-0 win over in-state rival Jacksonville State on a rainy night at the historic Cramton Bowl in the 2021 Montgomery Kickoff.
The Blazers (1-0) posted their first shutout since the 2018 season and limited the Gamecocks to 155 total yards to improve to 6-0 in season-openers under head coach Bill Clark.
UAB recorded four three-and-outs and held JSU to negative yards each of those four possessions. The JSU offense only crossed midfield twice in the game.
After a slow start on offense, UAB scored on three straight possessions in the second and third quarter to take a 17-0 lead.
UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston III capped a 97-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Rajae Johnson-Sanders to put the Blazers up 7-0 with 5:38 left in the first half. Matt Quinn’s 27-yard field goal with one minute left in the half extended the lead to 10-0. Quinn’s late field goal was set up by a blocked punt from safety Grayson Cash.
UAB scored on its opening drive of the third quarter to seize control of the game Johnston hooked up with tight end Gerrit Prince for 23-yard scoring strike to make it 17-0 less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Johnston completed 17-of-21 passes for 320 yards and two TDs in his season debut. It was his fifth career 300-yard passing game.
Jermaine Brown added a 10-yard TD run with 2:35 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 24-0.
UAB’s reserves put up a fourth-quarter touchdown when backup quarterback Dylan Hopkins aired out a 42-yard pass to Trea Shropshirewith just over five minutes to play.
Senior safety Dy’jonn Turner paced a dominant defensive performance with six tackles and a pass breakup. UAB finished the game with nine pass breakups.
JSU quarterback Zerrick Cooper, who missed the spring campaign after sustaining an injury against Florida International last October, completed 18-of-35 passes for 91 yards in his return to the lineup. He also led the Gamecocks in rushing with 28 yards on six carries. Newcomer PJ Wells caught three passes for a team-high 42 yards.
The Blazers recorded their first shutout since Oct. 27, 2018, when UAB blanked UTEP 19-0 in El Paso, Texas. UAB posted three shutouts in 2018, a Conference USA record.
JSU (0-1) was shutout for the first time since a 23-0 loss at No. 7 Florida in the 2012 season finale.