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UAB claims Conference USA's West for 3rd straight season

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Rice's defense cashes in with pick-six (0:37)

Marshall QB Grant Wells' pass is picked off by Naeem Smith and returned 36 yards for a touchdown. (0:37)

HOUSTON -- — Tyler Johnston III passed for 217 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and UAB beat Rice 21-16 on Saturday to claim the Conference USA West Division for the third consecutive season.

UAB (5-3) will face Marshall for the conference championship. The Thundering Herd had their game canceled this week against Charlotte.

UAB scored on its first two possessions of the second half —- in just seven plays. Myron Mitchell got behind the defense on UAB's first play after halftime for a 63-yard score. Samario Rudolph caught another long pass in traffic along the left side and he dove into the end zone for a 21-13 lead.

UAB punted it to the Rice 24 with 49 seconds left in the game — with no timeouts for the Owls. Rice got it past midfield, but Grayson Cash intercepted a pass on fourth-and-18 to seal it.

JoVoni Johnson passed for 161 yards and a touchdown for Rice (2-3). Jordan Myers made nine catches for 62 yards and a score.

Myers' score with 38 seconds left before halftime gave Rice a 13-6 lead. Collin Riccitelli had field goals of 36 and 40 yards, and he added a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter.

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