NASSAU, Bahamas — Dorian Brown tied a Bahamas Bowl record with four touchdown runs to lead Ohio to a 41-6 victory over UAB in the fourth edition of the bowl game in paradise on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The Bobcats (9-4) posted their first bowl game win since a 45-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 2012 and the third bowl game win in the history of their program.
The Blazers, who reinstated their football program this year after a two-year hiatus, finished with an 8-5 record.
Ohio swept the postgame awards as Brown was named the Offensive Player of the Game and safety Javon Hagan was named the Defensive Player of the Game.
Brown scored on runs of 74, 9, 25 and 14 yards and ended the day with 152 yards rushing on just 12 carries. Hagan had a game-high nine tackles (six solo) and a forced fumble to lead the stout Ohio defense.
“It was a great win,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. “We certainly appreciate all this team has been about – the way they’ve gone through the season, the way they started to prepare for the Bahamas Bowl at home and then continue the preparation here. To end up playing a very, very good football game, I couldn’t be any more pleased. I feel like eight wins were not enough with this football team, so this ninth win puts a little icing on the cake.”
The Bobcats scored on their opening possession for the seventh time in 13 games this year, marching 75 yards in 11 plays. Nathan Rourke hit D.L. Knock on a 2-yard touchdown pass and it was 7-0 Ohio with 6:41 gone in the contest.
Rourke then hit Papi White on a 56-yard touchdown strike on Ohio’s second possession. The extra point was wide left and the Bobcats led 13-0 with 3:40 left in the first quarter. White led all receivers in the contest with four catches for 106 yards and a score.
Ohio made it 20-0 when Brown raced 74 yards for his first touchdown of the day with 12:26 left in the first half.
The Blazers got on the board with a 34-yard field goal by Nick Vogel to pull within 20-3 at the 7:28 mark of the second quarter.
Brown got his second touchdown of the game on an 9-yard run with 1:17 left in the first half. Louie Zervos made the extra point and Ohio’s lead was 27-3 at intermission.
“They ran the ball on us,” UAB head coach Bill Clark said. “We had some chances to get off the field and we didn’t. But, they did what they do. They ran their quarterback. They broke some tackles. Maybe our depth on the defensive line showed a bit. But give them credit, they ran the ball well. We are disappointed in how many times we got the ball into the red zone and did not get touchdowns.”
UAB took the second-half kickoff, marched 83 yards in 11 plays and converted on a 25-yard field goal by Vogel to pull within 27-6 with 10:46 left in the third quarter.
After a 34-yard punt return by Kylan Nelson gave OU the ball at the UAB 25, Brown raced in on the next play to make it 34-6 with 7:45 to play in the third period.
Brown’s fourth and final score of the day was a 14-yard scamper with 4:05 left in the third to wrap up the scoring.
“I missed two games last time we played,” Brown said. “It actually motivated me. I give a lot of props to the O-line as well, because they did a tremendous job blocking and making it easy for me to run the ball. It was very important [to go out on a high note]. A.J. [Ouellette] wasn’t feeling so well in the first quarter, so I had to step up and take my role.”
A.J. Erdely completed 24-of-45 passes for 254 yards for the Blazers.
Rourke finished the day 12-of-18 passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns and ran three times for 30 yards to finish with 215 yards of total offense.
Ohio’s A.J. Ouellette ran eight times for 26 yards in the game, which put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season at 1,006 yards in 13 games.
“It was really good to see him reach 1,000,” Solich said. “He’d been beat up at times this season. Really, there was a time we were without Dorian and A.J., and obviously that’s going to hurt your football team. A.J. gave himself a chance to play in this game where I think there’s a lot of guys who wouldn’t have given it a try. I’m proud of him for what he accomplished.”
Ohio out-gained UAB 459-353 in total offense.
“This was not our day today,” Clark said. “But this won’t take anything away from what this group has done. It was a historic year, our group has set the bar very high for the next UAB teams to come. We need to do a good job of going out recruiting and take the next steps to build depth and be the program we want to be. This is not going to diminish the year at all.”
Defensively, Anthony Rush and Tevin Crews had a team-high seven tackles each for UAB.
The Bobcat victory evened the series at 2-2 between the Mid-American Conference and Conference USA in the four-year Bahamas Bowl history.
“Being from Florida, it felt good to get the heat again because it’s so cold in Ohio,” Hagan said. “The food was fantastic. This bowl is just a great experience. It’s definitely one of the best bowls I’ve experienced so far. The atmosphere, the water, the beach, the slides, it was just so fun. I felt like a little kid again.”