Helton gets first win as Hilltoppers defeat Panthers 20-14 | WKU Connection

Western Kentucky (1-1) went into tonight’s match up ranked 130th out of 130 teams, good for dead last in the FBS. They traveled to Florida International (0-2) to open up Conference USA play. Western Kentucky took care of business early, forcing a missed field goal and driving 78 yards for a touchdown and pulled some tricks out of the bag early with an onside kick the Hilltopper’s recovered on the ensuing kickoff. An interception thrown by Steven Duncan was picked off and returned 80 yards for a touchdown. It was one of two turnovers for Duncan, who finished 19/33 for 241 yards and a touchdown. A Gaej Walker touchdown gave the Toppers a lead they would hold for the rest of the game. The second half was a defensive battle as the Toppers were limited to a pair of field goals by Cory Munson. They were able to run out the clock and return to Bowling Green with a 20-14 win against a preseason favorite in the division.

Game Notes:

  • Quarterback Steven Duncan struggled with accuracy tonight. He led a good drive in the first quarter that resulted in a touchdown. Both interceptions were bad decisions, but the pick-6 was a great play by Florida International’s Richard Dames. Given that Coach Helton stuck with Duncan through the whole game tonight, if he can keep winning, the job is his.
  • Gaej Walker finished with 100 yards rushing for the second time this season in as many games. He also added the go-ahead touchdown.
  • Veteran Leadership carried the offense as Senior Lucky Jackson made many tough catches on his way to 93 yards, Including a 48 yard reception to set up Western Kentucky’s first touchdown.
  • Junior Kyle Fourtenbary also carried the load with five catches for 74 yards, including a 28 yard catch to spark a scoring drive to start the second half.
  • The defense led the Hilltoppers to a win, holding the Panthers to only five complete passes for 66 yards. While they didn’t force any turnovers, they forced FIU to run the ball. They held them to only two third down conversions

Overall, the Hilltoppers found a way to win an ugly game. They played with a lead and showed promise on offense. As Duncan adjusts to the new offense, he has plenty of weapons to work with. The defense looked great and we didn’t miss a field goal, so nothing to worry about that cannot be fixed.

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