RUSTON, Louisiana – The best regular season by a UAB running back ended on Saturday with the best single-game rushing performance by a UAB running back.

It’s the same dude.

On a rainy Saturday at Joe Aillet Stadium, DeWayne McBride rushed for a school-best 272 yards on just 16 carries to lead UAB to a 37-27 victory over Louisiana Tech. When all the counting was done, McBride had a total of 1,713 rushing yards in 10 games.

Jordan Howard’s marvelous season in 2014, when he rushed for 1,587 yards moves to second-best in school history. Howard’s final game in a UAB uniform, when he rushed for 262 yards at the end of a tumultuous season, also moves to second-best in school history.

“It means a lot, those boys (the offensive line), they push me,” McBride said. “Seeing the offensive line always working, they want it bad as me. We’re just a team out there, we work together.”  

As good as his night was, it could have been better. On a night when he averaged 17 yards per carry, McBride shut it down after a 20-yard run with about six minutes left in the third quarter. When asked if he was hurt, McBride said he was not.

“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport, you got Jermaine (Brown) and other running backs that want to play,” McBride said.

UAB interim head coach Bryant Vincent smiled when he heard what McBride said.

“Probably one of the best qualities in Debo is he’s very selfless,” Vincent said. “In today’s society, you just don’t see that very much, because everybody is for themselves and people are selfish. This program is built on being selfless and he is a prime example of what we’re built on.”

Many running backs would have pouted that they didn’t get more carries, especially on a night when they were piling up yards, instead of willingly giving others a shot.

“He’s an elite NFL running back, there’s no doubt, but he’s a better teammate,” Vincent emphasized. “That’s what’s going to carry him and get him to that elite status. He cares about his offensive line, he carries about his teammates, he cares about his defensive players, he cares about his coaches. At the end of the day, that’s what makes him special. We all know he’s an elite NFL running back, but it’s the man he is and the teammate he is that makes him special.”

McBride was just part of a special night for the UAB running game. Brown also eclipsed the 100-yard mark, rushing for 119 yards on 22 carries. As a team, the Blazers rushed for 406 yards on 43 carries, which is 9.4 yards per carry.

When they were through running, the Blazers celebrated reaching bowl eligibility and they quickly found out they are heading to play in the Bahamas Bowl on December 16 against Miami of Ohio.

Early on, though, it was a struggle for the Blazers, who trailed, 3-0, at the end of the first quarter. It could have been worse considering Louisiana Tech gained 119 yards on the first two drives. But the defense stiffened when needed, partly thanks to backup linebackers Reynard Ellis and Jackson Bratten, who were sensational all night while playing for injured starters.

UAB finally got on track in the second quarter when the Blazers moved 92 yards on three plays with McBride gaining 63 yards on the first two snaps and Brown finishing it off with a 29-yard touchdown run. By halftime, UAB had 231 rushing yards and a 17-6 lead.

The Blazers opened the final half with a 75-yard drive that featured a 45-yard run by McBride and a nine-yard touchdown run by the standout running back. It kicked off an explosive second half that featured a combined 42 points and 506 yards.

Dylan Hopkins, who threw for just one yard in the first half, contributed to the scoring with a 74-yard strike to Trea Shropshire in the third quarter.

When it was done, Vincent reflected on his team’s journey through the 12-game season.

“I tell you, man, you go through a lot [of] adversity and a season is a life of its own,” Vincent said. “Each week is a chapter in a book and each chapter you got to learn from and you got to grow from. Sometimes, those chapters aren’t very good, you know. You have tough times and things that will just hurt you and crush your soul at times. Just to stick together and to love each other and keep pushing and come to practice every single day and want to finish. Get bowl eligible for the seventh straight year and be able to play together one more time, was very important to this team. It says a lot.”

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