The Blazers took a 7-6 first-quarter lead on Johnston's 49-yard TD pass to Kendall Parham, then scored 24 unanswered points before the Zips mounted a fourth-quarter comeback after stopping the Blazers on downs.
Johnston, 15-of-24 passing with one interception, hit Austin Watkins on TD passes of 28 and 40 yards before connecting with Mitchell on the 76-yarder in the third quarter. Watkins had three catches for 95 yards, Parham grabbed four for 94, and Mitchell caught two for 88 yards. Spencer Brown, who entered with 2,633 career rushing yards and is vying to become UAB's career rushing leader, was held to 35 yards on 16 carries.
Deltron Sands capped Akron's opening drive with a 1-yard TD run, but the Zips were held scoreless until the fourth quarter when Kato Nelson hit Nate Stewart on a 6-yard TD pass. The comeback stalled with a fumble on a UAB punt return before Nelson hit Timothy Scippio on a 7-yard TD pass.
Nelson completed 25 of 44 passes for 359 yards. Dustin Burkhart caught eight passes for a career-high 217 yards.
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