BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - Alabama-Birmingham scored 21 unanswered points to open the second half and Jordan Howard had a go-ahead 15-yard rushing touchdown, lifting the Blazers to a 42-39 win over Western Kentucky on Saturday night.
Howard finished with 183 yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns.
UAB (3-2, 1-1 Conference USA) opened the game with a J.J. Nelson 100-yard kick return for a touchdown, but trailed 27-14 at halftime.
Anthony Wales scored three touchdowns with scores of 2, 75, and 21 yards in the first half and finished with 138 rushing yards for Western Kentucky (2-3, 0-2).
Ricardo Singh intercepted a rushed Cody Clements pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown, giving the Hilltoppers a 39-35 lead as the third quarter expired.
Howard's game-winning score came with 12:17 left in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Doughty, who averaged 461.5 passing yards per game entering the contest, completed 25 of 37 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns for Western Kentucky.
"Obviously it's a very disappointing loss," Western Kentucky head coach Jeff Brohm said. "We played well in the first half and in the second half, bottom line is, we got beat. The other team played better and found a way to make plays. We did not."
Western Kentucky's defense allowed a season high 591 yards of offense.
UAB shut the Hilltopper offense down in the second half to just 133 yards of offense and one score in the second half.
The Hilltoppers were held to just 3 of 10 on third-down conversions while UAB found success, converting 10 of 15.
"We play well at times and we give up a lot of big plays that hurt us," Brohm said. "Right now we obviously don't have a good answer for it. We wanted to play well the second half. Really, it is what it is. We'll go back and look at it as hard as we can. They had a good runner that ran strong and a quarterback who made some plays with his feet and they threw the ball deep on us. We need to play better."
Western Kentucky's offense opened the third quarter with its first punt of the game, followed on the next drive with a turnover on downs Wales was stuffed at his own 34-yard line to give UAB short field to work. The Blazers made quick work of the drive with a five-yard keeper from Clements to put UAB on top 28-27 with 8:16 left in the third.
Clements finished his night with 22 completions on 25 attempts for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
WKU's offense finally got things going on the next drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Doughty to Atwane Grant, but the Hilltoppers couldn't convert a two-point attempt and trailed until Singh's pick-six to expire the third quarter.