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Garrick McGee picks up first win as a head coach, routes SELA 52-3
Southeastern Louisiana was not interested in just handing UAB their first win of the season. On homecoming Saturday the Blazers came into the game 0-4 after losing several close games and was hungry for the first “W” of the season.
Things were chirpy at the start. After the game, senior linebacker Marvin Burdette mentioned that during the coin toss, captains of SELA said that they wanted the ball first because UAB had no
Burdette was fired up, and set the tone of the game inside of the first minute to show the Lions exactly what the Blazer “D” had in store. On third and short, Lion quarterback Nathan Stanley was flushed from the pocket, and while scrambling, he attempted a flip-pass to pick up the first down. Burdette snuffed the play out, intercepted what would-be a first down pass, and took it to the house. This placed the Green and Gold on top, where they would stay for the remainder of the game.
Sophomore defensive end Diaheem Watkins, after the game, talked about Burdette and his pick-six, saying, “He looked liked a little running back out there. He was pretty fast, I was trying to block for him but he outran me.”
Getting ahead early is something that the Birmingham squad has had no problems doing; in fact they have held leads in all but one game (Troy being the lone exception) this season. Once again getting on top early was a focus by first-year head coach Garrick McGee’s squad. After the game, Greg Franklin said, “The game plan was to attack them fast. We all huddled up as a team on the sidelines and said we were going to throw the first punch and we did what we said we were going to do.”
Greg Franklin had a solid game coming off of his poor performance against Tulsa: racking up 35 yards on seven carries with a touchdown on the ground plus a game high 86 receiving yards on four catches as he added another score for 120 yards of total offense on the day.
McGee said after the game, “Our team, our program has had a lot of rain. It is always good to have sunshine so they can see the way that we go about our business the way I am hard on them all the time, there is a reason for it. And if they continue to trust me and concentrate then they can beat most of the teams they play.”
Moral victories only go so far and this time the Blazers were only satisfied with an actual W. Diaheem Watkins said, “It feels good. It feels like that hard work was paying off. We still got a long season ahead of us but that win feels good. We know the taste now.”
The Blazers thoroughly outplayed the Loins, racking up almost a 400-yard advantage in total offense. The run game looked good again, gaining over 150 yards for the first time this season. “What felt the best is to see our team play up to our potential. To see us run the football, block, see us convert third downs, see our defense fly around the field, make big hits, get their hands on the football, keep leverage on the ball, make long kicks, kick the ball in the end zone, play special teams the right way, that is what felt best to me, to see our team play the way they are capable of playing.”
The defense allowed only 47 yards on the ground as on pace to only giving up nine first downs and allowing only 2.3 yards per play en route to the 52-3 victory. The Blazers forced two turnovers, and didn’t cough up the rock a single time. The defense once again put pressure on the opposing QB sacking him three times during the game.
Ty Long drilled a 53-yarder to put himself first and second in UAB history for longest kicks.
Penalties were once again a problem for the home team, as they hit with over seven costing UAB 70 yards.
The Blazers can’t take a week off, especially now that they will be travelling to Houston. Houston has won two straight games and will be looking to stay perfect in conference play. McGee said “Sometimes dealing with success is just as hard or harder than dealing with failure… Especially for a team that hasn’t had much success.” His team will now have to deal with that success as they move forward and as they attempt control their own destiny in C-USA as they chase a conference championship.