By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE 2017 Bahamas Bowl features a matchup of high scoring teams as two of the hottest squads in their conferences get ready to set the stage for an intriguing game.
The University of Ohio Bobcats and UAB Blazers will both enter the December 22 contest with 8-4 marks and record-setting offences.
Bobcats head coach Frank Solich has led the Bobcats to nine bowls, including in each of the last three seasons. The Bobcats come into the Bahamas Bowl with four victories in the last six games. They average 38.9 points per game and set a school record with 467 points scored.
Their high octane offence has 40 or more points in half of their games this season. Junior running back A.J. Ouellette and sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke lead an offence that averages 244.2 rushing yards per game.
A dual threat quarterback, Rourke has five 100-yard rushing games, while Ouellette has four 100-yard efforts. Rourke also holds the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 21 and his 37 total touchdowns is one away from tying the Ohio season record. He also has thrown for 2,018 passing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Head coach Bill Clark has led the Blazers to a bowl game in just his second season. The team has won six of their last eight games and all six games at home.
The Blazers average 29.6 points per game, and UAB has scored 30 or more points six times. UAB averaged 190.2 rushing yards per game, led by true freshman running back Spencer Brown, who broke the school record for freshman rushing yards with 1,292. Redshirt junior quarterback A.J. Erdely tied a school record with 13 rushing touchdowns, which is also the most by a Blazer quarterback, and he has accounted for 29 touchdowns (13 rushing, 16 passing).
Defensively, the Bobcats have held opponents to 25.8 points per game. Redshirt senior linebacker Quentin Poling leads the team with 102 tackles, including 47 solo stops, 12.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He also leads the team with 5.5 sacks, part of the Bobcats’ 28 overall. Redshirt senior linebacker Chad Moore paces the Bobcats with three interceptions. Redshirt senior cornerback Bradd Ellis has 18 pass breakups, which ties the school record and ranks in the top three in FBS in the category
UAB has been strong on defense, especially in stopping runners behind the line of scrimmage. The Blazers have 81 tackles for loss and have posted four or more in each game this season. UAB has 14 interceptions, including 10 in the last seven games, and have posted five multi-interception games. Redshirt senior cornerback Darious Williams has five interceptions and is second in FBS in passes defensed with 20 (1.7 per game). Redshirt senior linebacker Tevin Crews led the team with 95 tackles, and redshirt junior defensive lineman Stacy Keely led the Blazers with four sacks.
Ticket sales for the 2017 Bahamas Bowl went on sale at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium box office and online at NSA-Bahamas.com on November 1.
Prices start at $10 for general admission and range from $10-$30.
Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium Box Office or via the National Stadium Authority-Bahamas website at NSA-Bahamas.com. For more information, call the National Stadium Box Office at 325-0376.
The 2017 gameday entertainment includes a pregame performance by the Bahamas All-Star Band, a halftime performance by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, and Junkanoo groups will perform during the break between the first and second quarters as well as the break between the third and fourth quarters.
For the second straight year, the game date falls at the start of a long holiday weekend in the Bahamas, allowing for an early Friday afternoon game.
Crowds of over 13,000 each year in Nassau have watched the only current bowl game played outside of the United States. The inaugural game in 2014 saw WKU beat Central Michigan 49-48 in a memorable offensive shootout. In 2015, Western Michigan beat Middle Tennessee 45-31 and last year, Old Dominion held off Eastern Michigan 24-20.