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UAB cruises to 37-14 win over WKU; No. 4 Notre Dame slips by Louisville, 12-7, in defensive battle

Alabama-Birmingham dominated Western Kentucky in all three phases of the game en route to a 37-14 victory over the visiting Hilltoppers on Saturday at Legion Field.

UAB (4-1 overall, 2-0 Conference USA) outgained WKU (1-4, 1-2 C-USA) 358-250 and scored three offensive touchdowns. The UAB defense forced four turnovers and had five sacks, while the special teams unit blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown. Kicker Matt Quinn also converted all three of his field goal attempts.

The Blazers extended their home winning streak to 21 and are now riding a three-game winning streak overall.

UAB running back DeWayne McBride (22) tries to evade Western Kentucky defenders on Saturday. (WKU photo)

Freshman running back DeWayne McBride led the UAB offense with 10 carries for 131 yards, highlighted by a career-long 71-yard touchdown run. Bryson Lucero threw for 141 yards and a touchdown. Austin Watkins caught seven of Lucero’s 15 completions for 55 yards and one touchdown.

Senior cornerback Brontae Harris led yet another dominating defensive performance with five tackles, a sack and an interception. UAB, which entered the game as the nation’s second-ranked pass defense, held the Hilltoppers to 162 passing yards as the Blazers kept their streak alive of holding every opponent this season under 200 yards passing.

Spencer Brown’s 2-yard touchdown plunge gave the Blazers a 10-7 lead with 42 seconds left in the quarter. It was Brown’s 37th career rushing touchdown, which moved him into 15th place in C-USA history.

UAB then surged ahead 17-7 with 12:43 left in the half when McBride busted a 3rd-and-1 for a 71-yard touchdown run that was UAB’s longest scoring play of the year. The touchdown was McBride’s second of the season.

WKU got within three with 5:42 remaining in the half when Kevaris Thomas connected with Joshua Simon for a 6-yard score. UAB responded with 52 seconds remaining as Lucero found Watkins on a 2-yard touchdown to make the score 24-14 at the half.

The Blazers busted the game open early in the second half on a special teams touchdown as outside linebacker Nikia Eason Jr. blocked a WKU punt, which wide receiver Ryan Davis returned 37 yards to paydirt for a 31-14 advantage with 13:06 left in the third.

Quinn tacked on two additional field goals of 44 (career-long) and 30 for the game’s final points as UAB rolled to 37-14 victory.

UAB held WKU to just 1-of-12 on third down and has held its opponents to just 6-of-37 in that category over the last three games, while yielding just 37 total points during that span.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) prepares to pass against Louisville on Saturday. (Notre Dame photo)

NOTRE DAME HOLDS OFF LOUISVILLE: Notre Dame entered Saturday’s game with Louisville ranked No. 4 nationally, and the unbeaten Fighting Irish escaped with a 12-7 victory over the visiting Cardinals.

Ian Book’s 13-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave Notre Dame (4-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 12-7 lead. Book also passed for 106 yards.

Kyren Williams paced the Irish running attack with 127 yards on 25 carries, marking his third 100-yard rushing effort of the season.

Louisville (1-4, 0-4 ACC) took a 7-6 lead in the third quarter as Malik Cunningham found Marshon Ford with a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap an 83-yard drive. Cunningham finished 16-of-19 passing for 132 yards.

Notre Dame held a 338-233 advantage in total yards and sent Louisville to its fourth consecutive loss.

Louisville plays host to Florida State at noon on Saturday. The Cardinals are 1-1 at home this season, having beaten Western Kentucky (35-21) and lost to nationally ranked Miami (Fla.) by a 47-34 score.

(Information compiled from UAB, WKU, Notre Dame and staff reports)

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