HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Trea Shropshire had five receptions for 180 yards — including a 71-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter — and Spencer Brown had 30 carries for 149 yards rushing to help UAB beat Marshall 22-13 on Friday night for the Blazers’ second Conference USA championship in the last three years.
Tyler Johnston III was 12-of-22 passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns for UAB (6-3).
UAB became the first school to reach the championship game for the third straight season, all on the road. The Blazers, who resumed their football program in 2017 after it was cut following the 2014 season, won the title at Middle Tennessee in 2018 and lost at Florida Atlantic last year.
Grant Wells was 8-of-23 passing for 138 yards and two touchdowns for the Thundering Herd (7-2).
UAB was clinging to a two-point lead and facing a third-and-6 from its own 29 when Johnston lofted a ball to Shropshire, who caught it near midfield and raced to the end zone to cap the scoring with 4:02 left.
Marshall entered the game with the nation’s top scoring defense (11.4 points per game) and the second-best rushing defense (73 yards per game). The Thundering Herd gave up more than 20 points for the first time this season and allowed a season-high 216 yards rushing.
Marshall, which won its first seven games and rose as high as No. 15 in the AP poll, went three-and-out five times, and didn’t have a drive of longer than 24 yards, in its first eight possessions. Eli Neal recovered a fumble by UAB’s Tyler Johnson III near midfield to set up a six-play, 49-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Wells to Artie Henry with 6:17 left in the third quarter to trim the Thundering Herd’s deficit to 9-7.
Wells hit Xavier Gaines in stride for a 70-yard touchdown catch-and-run but the 2-point conversion attempt failed and Marshall trailed 15-13 with 5:38 remaining. Three plays from scrimmage later, Shropshire’s TD sealed it.
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