“I really felt like our guys continued to play the whole game,” NSU head coach Jay Thomas said. “I told the guys at halftime, ‘We had a punt return and a bad snap that put us down 14 points right there, and if we had limited that it probably would have been a three-point game at halftime.’”
NSU (2-2) wanted to establish the run and the team did so behind junior college transfer Garrett Atzenweiler.
The junior from Effingham, Kan. burst onto the scene with 100 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. He becomes the first Demon running back to run for 100 yards since Robert Walker ran for 103 against Lamar last season.
“We love seeing that guy run,” Thomas said. “He came out and it was a good breakout show for him. He ran the ball really physically.”
Atzenweiler’s game was the shot in the arm the Demons needed as NSU gained 21 first downs and 334 yards of offense.
“I felt like our offense really moved the ball well today and kept us in the game to give us an opportunity,” Thomas said.
Junior quarterback Zach Adkins turned in a decent game with 194 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-44 passing.
However, he felt the heat from the Blazers’ defense, throwing an interception and getting sacked twice.
“It is a tough match when you play a Division I opponent and they have five guys rushing at you,” Thomas said. We will continue to get better and Zach made a ton of plays with his feet.”
UAB (1-2) took control early with two touchdowns in the game’s first five minutes.
Austin Brown found Kennar Backman for a 1-yard touchdown pass after a snap went past Demon punter Chase Tassin to put the Blazers in a great opportunity to score. Sixty-three seconds later, Tassin got a chance to punt the ball, but UAB punt returner Jamarcus Nelson fielded it for a 63-yard return for a touchdown to give the Blazers an early 14-0 lead.
Atzenweiler would put NSU on the board after a one-yard plunge, but 10 more points by the Blazers put the Demons at a 24-7 disadvantage midway through the second quarter.
Atzenweiler would then score his second touchdown of the game when he scored from three yards out to cut the deficit to 10, but UAB found an answer once again thanks to a Darrin Reaves eight-yard touchdown scamper, giving UAB a 31-14 lead at the half.
NSU fared better in the third quarter, ending their opening drive of the second half with a Zach Adkins 34-yard pass to Louis Hollier to bring the score to 31-21.
The Blazers countered with two long touchdowns of their own, but Demon running back Daniel Taylor would get a six-yard run to put the Demons down 17 with 5:33 left in the third.
Unfortunately for the Demons, their scoring came to a complete halt as UAB added an insurance touchdown in the fourth when Jordan Howard scored on an eight-yard run to put the eventual final score to 52-28.
“We didn’t tackle well today in both phases---special teams and defense,” Thomas said. “You have to give UAB a lot of credit.”
The Demons will conclude their non-conference slate with Langston Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. in Turpin Stadium.