HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - After eight years of near-futility against the University of Alabama-Birmingham on the football field, the University of Southern Mississippi broke through in dominating fashion Saturday afternoon at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Quarterback Jack Abraham threw a pair of touchdowns and the Golden Eagles defense held the Blazers’ offense without a point in a 37-2 Conference USA victory.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak to UAB and was just USM’s second win over the Blazers in the past nine seasons.
The win also gave the Golden Eagles (6-3, 4-1 C-USA) bowl eligibility for the fifth consecutive season . Saturday marked the earliest calendar date (Nov. 9) as well as the earliest in the schedule (ninth game) USM had gained postseason eligibility in Coach Jay Hopson’s four seasons.
A Walk-Ons Independence Bowl representative was in attendance Saturday. USM participated in the Shreveport, La.-based bowl game in 2017.
Abraham threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to Quez Watkins and 9 yards to Tim Jones. Abraham, who was sacked four times and passing under pressure another half dozen times, completed 17-of-22 passes for 164 yards.
Andrew Stein connected on field goals of 25 yards, 35 yards and 44 yards and
Running back Steven Anderson scored on a 6-yard run and safety D.Q. Thomas became the first Golden Eagle to turn an interception into a touchdown this season, returning a mistake by UAB quarterback Dylan Hopkins 55 yards for a score.
Hopkins completed 15-of-25 passes for 103 yards with two interceptions.
All told, UAB (6-3, 3-2) managed just 173 yards against the Golden Eagles, the second consecutive game USM had held an opponent to less than 200 yards total offense.
The only points the Blazers managed came on a third-quarter sack of Abraham in the end zone, with offensive lineman Drake Dorbeck swatting the fumble through the back of the end zone.
Kevin Perkins led the USM ground game with 94 yards on just six carries, including a 79-yard jaunt that set up Jones’ first TD catch of the season.
Jones had a game-high six catches for 67 yards, while Watkins had five catches for 87 yards.
USM travels to the University of Texas-San Antonio at 5 p.m. Saturday.