Nov. 5, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Case Keenum's season just keeps getting better.
A near-perfect passing game, another NCAA record and the first 9-0 start in school history are the latest entries on the senior's season of milestones.
"I'm having a blast playing football right now," Keenum said after he threw for 407 yards to become the most prolific passer in NCAA history and lead No. 14 Houston past UAB 56-13 on Saturday night.
Keenum, a sixth-year senior who was granted an extra year of eligibility after a knee injury last season, passed Timmy Chang's career record of 17,072 yards passing for Hawaii from 2000-04. Keenum finished the game with 17,212 yards passing.
"It has been a very special season and we still have a lot of special things out in front of us," said Keenum, who had his first two rushing touchdowns of the season.
Houston (9-0 overall, 5-0 Conference USA) has won its first nine games for the first time in school history. It also was 8-0 in 1979 and 1990.
Keenum completed 39 of 44 passes with two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks. The senior completed a 16-yard pass to Justin Johnson in the third quarter to pass Chang's mark. Keenum tied Chang's record with a 26-yard pass to Johnson on the previous play.
"I don't take any of these things lightly, and I know for a fact that this is a very special honor," Keenum said. "I'm not going to fully enjoy it and celebrate it until after the season. Hopefully, I will have a lot more to celebrate after the season than just the records."
Keenum, who threw nine TD passes against Rice last week, completed his first 11 passes against UAB (1-8, 1-5). He began the night 267 yards away from matching Chang's mark.
The quarterback, being pushed by Houston for Heisman Trophy consideration, extended his NCAA career records for TD passes (141) and total offense (18,101). He has passed for more than 400 yards in five games this season. He has passed for 34 touchdowns with only three interceptions.
"He has had a record every week for the last three weeks, and that is a big deal," said Houston coach Kevin Sumlin.
"Our team takes great pride in everybody's individual success because they understand that it is a team effort. I think that is why they play so hard."
Keenum's two rushing touchdowns gave him 22 for his career. With his TD passes, he has been responsible for 163 career touchdowns, another NCAA record.
The Blazers took the early lead on Jonathan Perry's 9-yard pass to Patrick Hearn to cap a 12-play drive in the first quarter. UAB, attempting to make the most of its momentum, then tried an onside kick, but Houston recovered on the Blazers' 47.
Keenum led a quick touchdown drive capped by a 2-yard scoring pass to Tyron Carrier, who had a career-best 12 catches for 105 yards.
After that, UAB's only points came on Ty Long's field goals of 39 yards in the second quarter and 37 yards in the third.
Houston held UAB to 13 first downs and 269 total yards. Sumlin relished the chance to brag about his defense because offense is never a concern.
"We can score with the best of them," Sumlin said after his Cougars scored at least 56 points for the fourth straight game.
"We held them to 115 yards rushing and 269 yards all night and 13 points. In today's age, that's pretty good defense."
Keenum had 1-yard scoring runs in the second and third quarters. Charles Sims also scored from the 1 in the second quarter and Michael Hayes capped Houston's first possession of the second half with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Hayes had 16 carries for 93 yards. Sims had 14 carries for 71 yards.
Keenum added an 11-yard scoring pass to Johnson early in the fourth. The Cougars pushed their lead to 49-13 on D.J. Hayden's 52-yard interception return.
Perry completed 15 of 29 passes for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Greg Franklin led the Blazers with 11 carries for 54 yards.
"We started the game off playing fast, hard and with a lot of energy," said UAB coach Neil Callaway.
"We played hard until it got out of hand in the end. We blew some coverages late in the game, and we have to work on staying disciplined and doing the right thing."