UAB Makes History with 37-13 Win Over NIU at the 2018 Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
Boca Raton, Florida – The UAB Blazers finished the season 11-3 overall, making this their first 11-win season in program history just two years after being reinstated. UAB won its first ever bowl game in school history outscoring Northern Illinois 37-13 in front of 22,614 spectators. They took a 27-10 lead at halftime before scoring another 10 points in the second half to put the game away.
“We talked a lot about making history. That’s what we sold these guys…” said UAB Head Coach Bill Clark “I guess in our wildest dreams we would win a conference championship and then cap it off with a bowl win”. Clark completed his first year at UAB in 2014 and returned with the team as the head coach upon UAB’s reinstatement in 2017.
The team was led by quarterback true freshman Tyler Johnston III, who threw for 373 yards and all four of the Blazers’ touchdowns, including two for 70 and 66 yards. “The offensive line, I definitely couldn’t do without them.” said Johnston. “They were always there for me. I believed in them and they believed in me.”
Offensive MVP Xavier Ubosi set a Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl record with 227 yards receiving yards on seven receptions, three of which were touchdowns, also all career highs. His 227 receiving yards were the third most in UAB history. Following the game Ubosi stated “After you win a game like this, you understand everything that’s been preached to us for the last three and a half years…”
Defensive MVP Anthony Rush anchored the line with five tackles, a sack and 1.5 TFL, while Mar’Sean Diggs had a team-high 10 tackles, followed by Chris Woolbright with nine.
The Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl was one of just three bowl games this season featuring two conference champions, the others being the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12) and the Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12).