BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Shawn Southward ran for a career-high 204 yards and three touchdowns as Troy defeated Alabama-Birmingham 39-29 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Southward, a senior, got those yards on a career-high 28 carries. The last time Southward ran for more than 100 yards in a game came during his freshman year at Western Kentucky.
"I feel good just going out and getting a win," Southward said. "I'm tired and kind of sore, but I enjoyed it. This is the first time getting that many carries and I enjoyed it."
Troy's win spoiled Garrick McGee's head coaching debut for UAB.
UAB's Jonathan Perry threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns but had two costly turnovers in the fourth quarter. Both led to Troy touchdowns.
With Troy up 25-23, De'Von Terry intercepted a Perry pass and the Trojans capped it off with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Corey Robinson to B.J. Chitty. On UAB's first play of the next drive, Perry was hit by Troy's Tyler Roberts and fumbled. Tony Davis recovered inside the 10-yard line.
After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against UAB, Southward scored from 5 yards out.
Southward responded from an early fumble deep in Troy territory. After his fumble in the third quarter, UAB got a 27-yard field goal from Ty Long to cut the lead to 19-17. On his next carry, Southward ran for 55 yards to later set up his 7-yard touchdown run, putting Troy up 25-17 late in the third.
"I'm really proud of him and the job he does," Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. "You don't really ever watch him much when he doesn't have the ball. He does a great job with picking up blitzes."
Robinson hit 12 of 21 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Chip Reeves had six catches for a career-high 125 yards and a 55-yard touchdown reception.
UAB got rushing touchdowns from Perry and Dontavius Jackson. Jackie Williams paced the Blazers with six catches for 157 yards, but had a crucial first-half fumble inside the 5-yard line. Patrick Hearn caught seven passes for 108 yards.