AKRON, Ohio — Tyler Johnston III passed for 319 yards and four touchdowns, including a 76-yarder to Myron Mitchell, and UAB held off Akron 31-20 on Saturday in the programs' first gridiron meeting.
The Blazers took a 7-6 first-quarter lead on Johnston's 49-yard TD pass to Kendall Parham, then scored 24 unanswered points before the Zips mounted a fourth-quarter comeback after stopping the Blazers on downs.
Johnston, 15-of-24 passing with one interception, hit Austin Watkins on TD passes of 28 and 40 yards before connecting with Mitchell on the 76-yarder in the third quarter. Watkins had three catches for 95 yards, Parham grabbed four for 94, and Mitchell caught two for 88 yards. Spencer Brown, who entered with 2,633 career rushing yards and is vying to become UAB's career rushing leader, was held to 35 yards on 16 carries.
Deltron Sands capped Akron's opening drive with a 1-yard TD run, but the Zips were held scoreless until the fourth quarter when Kato Nelson hit Nate Stewart on a 6-yard TD pass. The comeback stalled with a fumble on a UAB punt return before Nelson hit Timothy Scippio on a 7-yard TD pass.
Nelson completed 25 of 44 passes for 359 yards. Dustin Burkhart caught eight passes for a career-high 217 yards.
South Alabama 37, Jackson State 14
MOBILE — Tra Minter ran for two touchdowns as South Alabama beat Jackson State.
Minter racked up 189 yards on 16 carries for the Jaguars (1-1), including a 49-yard scoring run late in the first quarter. Cephus Johnson threw for 120 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score.
South Alabama led 13-7 after Minter's TD run when Johnson threw a short touchdown pass to Kawaan Baker with seconds to go in the first half and the Jaguars led 19-7 at halftime.
Minter ran for his second touchdown late in the third but the two-point conversion failed, leaving it at 25-7 with 5:36 to play in the quarter.
Jackson State scored a touchdown late in the first quarter on a 6-yard pass from Derrick Ponder to Newman but did not score again until late in the fourth when Tyson Alexander squeezed one more in on a 30-yard run with 5:22 to play.
Ponder finished with 123 yards passing for the Tigers (0-2).
Jacksonville State 41, Chattanooga 20
JACKSONVILLE — Zerrick Cooper passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more as Jacksonville State rolled past Chattanooga.
Cooper and Austin Kinsey each scored short rushing touchdowns in Jacksonville State's 14-point fourth quarter, where the Gamecocks (1-1) put some distance on Chattanooga (1-1).
Cooper completed 20 of 26 passes for 344 yards with touchdown throws to Jamari Hester (two catches, 87 yards) and Trae Barry (six catches, 151 yards). The Gamecocks' fourth quarter opened up a 27-20 game.
Chattanooga was led by Ailym Ford's 127 yards rushing on 22 carries, including a 4-yard run that pulled the Mocs to within 27-20 in the final minute of the third quarter. Nick Tiano passed for 127 yards and ran for 19 more with a TD.
Ark-Pine Bluff 52, Alabama A&M 34
NORMAL — Skyler Perry threw three touchdown passes and his backup Shannon Patrick tossed three more as Arkansas Pine Bluff scored 35 unanswered points to beat Alabama A&M in a SWAC opener.
Perry opened the scoring with a 59-yard TD toss to Harry Ballard III on the Golden Lions' first possession, but Aqeel Glass drove Alabama A&M 68 yards in four plays, connecting with Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim from 9 yards out to forge a tie. Zack Piwniczka kicked a 30-yard field goal to put the Golden Lions (1-1, 1-0) up 10-7, but the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) used a 17-yard TD run by Jordan Bentley to take a 14-10 lead. Patrick gave Pine Bluff the lead for good when he hooked up with Tyrin Ralph for a 28-yard score and a 17-14 lead.
Perry hit Jeremy Brown for an 8-yard TD in the second quarter and Patrick added a 49-yard scoring strike to Ballard to make it 31-14 at halftime. Patrick connected with DeJuan Miller for a 27-yard score and Taeyler Porter ripped off a 53-yard TD run in the third quarter to end a 35-0 run, putting the Golden Lions up 45-14.
Keshawn Williams carried 20 times for a career-high 201 yards, while Porter finished with 117 yards on 18 carries for Pine Bluff. Patrick competed 9 of 14 passes for 196 yards, while Perry was 11-of-15 passing for 109 yards. Ballard hauled in four passes for 132 yards and three TDs.
Glass completed 30 of 43 passes for 352 yards with two TDs and an interception for Alabama A&M. Bentley had 108 yards and two TDs on 18 carries.