UAB boils Rice to become bowl eligible in first season back from hiatus

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A.J. Erdely threw three touchdown passes, Spencer Brown ran for three scores and became the school's sixth freshman to top 1,000 rushing yards, and UAB beat Rice 52-21 on Saturday to become bowl eligible for the fifth time in program history.

UAB becoming bowl eligible also is notable because this season is the Blazers' first since the school ended football and took a two-year hiatus from competition.

Brown, the nation's second-leading rusher among freshmen, gained 140 yards on 17 carries; he has 1,049 yards on the season. He scored on a 1-yard run on UAB's opening drive and also on 9- and 1-yard runs.

UAB scored on its first four possessions, before Blazers cornerback Brontae Harris grabbed a 64-yard pick-six. Garrison Mitchell's fumble recovery led to Erdely's 16-yard TD pass to Andre Wilson six plays later.

Erdely was 20 of 21 passing for 197 yards for the Blazers (6-3, 4-2 Conference USA), with a 43-yard scoring pass to Donnie Lee and a second touchdown pass to Wilson on a 5-yarder.

Miklo Smalls ran for a score and was 9-of-15 for 179 yards passing for Rice (1-8, 1-4), with a 10-yard TD pass to Aaron Cephus, who had four catches for 100 yards. Austin Walter scored on a 70-yard run for the Owls.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.