Hilltoppers slay Dragons 20-13 | WKU Connection

Image via: WKU Athletics

Ty Storey, the grad transfer from Arkansas, got his first start at quarterback following Steven Duncan’s season ending injury. Storey did exactly as he needed to do, which was control the ball and give the defense a break. The defense stepped up HUGE in this game, combining for four interceptions of UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston. They stayed in the backfield all night, forcing 8 tackles for loss. This game was tied at 3, 10, and 13, but the Hilltoppers were able to score last giving them the W in front of a good crowd at the Houch.

Storey completed 15/24 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, having no turnovers. He looked comfortable in the offense and made good reads, opting for the quick pass most of the night. He was also called to run 13 times, making him the leading rusher in attempts and yards with 26. Rushing was otherwise a letdown as Gaej Walker fumbled on the Hilltopper’s first play from scrimmage and never looked like he did the first two weeks of the season. He finished with just 19 yards with his longest rush being 5 yards. Walker’s fumble led to a quick field goal by UAB but WKU quickly tied it up after Kyle Bailey recorded his first pick of the night. The two teams would trade touchdowns next, with Storey hitting receiver Joshua Simon for an eight yard score. Corey Munson kicked his second field goal of the game and the Tops went to the break up a score. A touchdown pass to Jacour Pearson gave the Hilltopper’s the lead for good to start the 4th. Pearson finished with five grabs for 94 yards, including a 50 yard grab.

Defensively, this is the best the Hilltoppers have looked all season. A secondary that has looked non-existent at times stepped up huge. Kyle Bailey had two interceptions and Trae Meadows and Jeremy Darvin each added one. Devon Key and DeAngelo Malone paced the defense, putting up 12 and 10 tackles respectively. Malone also posted 2 sacs and 3 tackles for loss on his own. Overall, the defense controlled the game allowing the offense to play conservative in order to beat an undefeated UAB squad. This win kept WKU atop the C-USA leaderboard with a 2-0 conference record. The Toppers will travel to Old Dominion next week looking to avenge their loss in Bowling Green last year that ended about as wildly as you could imagine.

Louisville too much for Western Kentucky, Toppers fall 38-21

Western Kentucky entered Saturday’s match up in Nashville wanting to prove they belonged on the same field as their Power 5 foe in Louisville. It was evident early on that Louisville was the more talented team, even playing without starting Quarterback Jawon Pass. Despite the Cardinals controlling the game early, the Hilltoppers did not go down easy. Quarterback Steven Duncan played the entirety of the game despite injuring his foot in the second half. He looked much improved, finishing the game with a career high 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. His accuracy was still low, as he finished 25/47 on the day, but he is not all to blame for that. The one costly mistake was a fumble by Duncan near the end of the first half that was returned for a touchdown.

The expectation was that Western Kentucky would continue to dominantly run the football after Gaej Walker posted two consecutive performances of 100 yards. Walker carried the ball 14 times for only 41 yards, with his longest run being 7 yards. Instead it was another freshman who gave the offense its first score when Joshua Simon caught his only pass and took it 77 yards to the house. Overall, the offense was able to put up points but unable to get in any rythm. They converted only 4-16 third downs.

The defense for Western Kentucky looked more like it did week one vs. UCA than it did in last weeks victory over FIU. Louisville quickly established a ground game behind quarterback Malik Cunningham and never looked back. Javian Hawkins led the way with 93 of Louisville’s 210 yard on the ground. They were also able to find success against WKU’s secondary for 205 yards on ten catches. Western was unable to cover Louisville star reciever Tutu Atwell as he caught four passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns.

While an overall rough day for the defense, it was highlighted by Devon Key and DeAngelo Malone, who each finished with 10 tackles. Key also recovered a fumble to start the second half. The Hilltoppers front seven looked solid in pass rush, tallying 3 sacks on 16 pass attempts, but Louisville controlled the game on the ground. “They overpowered us,” coach Helton said after the game, speaking of the Louisville offense.

Western Kentucky comes off this loss into a bye week. The Hilltoppers now have film against a power opponent, no matter the caliber in national rankings. Expect Western Kentucky to tighten up their defense and keep building a rhythm on offense. This game offered a non conference test for WKU, who even with a loss, gained valuable experience in an otherwise meaningless game. Western Kentucky still sits alone atop the C-USA standings.

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.