Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels (6) makes a 5-yard pass for a touchdown as he is chased by UAB defenders Derek Slaughter (33) and Jimmy Jean (7) in the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 in Nashville.(AP Photo)
NASHVILLE, Tenn (AP) - Alabama-Birmingham entered Saturday night's game averaging 33 points per game, but that average dropped after falling 52-24 to Vanderbilt.
The Blazers (1-3, 0-0 Conference USA) had some success moving the ball into Vanderbilt territory in the first half, but they were unable to get the ball into the end zone until the fourth quarter, long after Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2 SEC) had the game well in hand.
Running back Darrin Reaves, who averaged 6.9 yards per carry prior to Saturday, gained just 45 yards on 14 carries.
The Blazers are now 2-19 all-time against teams from the SEC and has played at least one SEC team in 12 consecutive seasons. Saturday's meeting was the second all-time between the schools. UAB traveled to Nashville in 1996.
Getting first-half field goals instead of touchdowns just wasn't good enough against an SEC opponent.
"I think it would've been a different game because we would've scored more points early," UAB coach Garrick McGee said of his team's inability to score touchdowns in the first half. "But we did not play well on offense throughout the game. We made multiple mistakes and our quarterback play was not where I expected it to be. So I think that in the long run the mistakes on offense would have ended up costing us the game because we just weren't executing on a high level."
Jerron Seymour ran for a pair of first half touchdowns for Vanderbilt.
Seymour started the game's scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. With just over nine minutes remaining in the second Seymour took a direct snap and ran for a 58-yard score on the only play of that drive.
It was the first career two-touchdown game for the sophomore, who set a career high with 107 yards rushing.
Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels ran for a touchdown and threw for two more, completing 23-29 passes for a career high 334 yards.
Carta-Samuels' second touchdown pass went to Jordan Matthews, who tied a Vanderbilt record with his 21st career touchdown reception.
"Today I think we did a really good job as an offense just showing a lot of different things that we do successfully," Carta-Samuels said.
Ty Long kicked three field goals for the Blazers (1-3, 0-0 Conference USA) in the game. After connecting from 33 yards late in the first quarter, Long hit on a 20-yard field goal with 9:23 remaining in the second and again from 37 in the third.
That field goal came after UAB drove 72 yards in nine plays and had a first-and-goal from the Vanderbilt 5-yard line. After the ensuing kickoff, the Blazers were stung by Seymour's long touchdown run.
"Definitely the momentum shifted after that," Seymour said. "Whenever you can stop the offense from getting a touchdown and holding them to a field goal then the opposing offense comes back and scores a touchdown, the momentum has been shifted and it hurts the other team."
UAB had two fourth quarter touchdowns.
Jonathan Perry connected with Darius Powell on a 29-yard strike early in the final quarter. A Perry pass to Kennard Backman gave the Blazers the two-point conversion.
With just over a minute left in the game, Perry connected with Jamari Staples from 17 yards.
The Commodores struck just before halftime when Carta-Samuels ran for a 1-yard touchdown with five seconds remaining in the second quarter. It was the senior's fourth touchdown on the ground this season.
Carta-Samuels' second touchdown pass went to Jordan Matthews, who tied a Vanderbilt record with his 21st career touchdown reception. The senior wide receiver is now tied with Dan Stricker atop the Commodores' list for all-time touchdown catches.
"This week we jumped routes, we were more aggressive, and I thought that was really the big difference in the game across the board," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. "We want to build on that, and we want to continue doing it."
Wesley Tate and Patton Robinette also had rushing touchdowns for the Commodores.
UAB freshman running back Jordan Howard led the Blazers on the ground with 92 yards, a season high. He had a 52-yard run in the first quarter.
Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2 SEC) has won seven consecutive games against non-SEC opponents. They will play their next six games against conference foes.
UAB is 2-19 all-time against SEC opponents. Saturday's game concluded the non-league portion of their schedule.
"The fact that early in the game, we were able to hold them to field goals instead of touchdowns, that's a team that has been scoring over 30 points against everybody, so I thought that was the really big difference in the game," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said.
After playing their fourth non-conference game of the season, UAB will now set its sights on the Conference USA portion of its schedule.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.