Troy, Ala. — The Western Kentucky University football team suffered its eighth loss of the 2008 season on with a 17-7 defeat at Troy on Saturday in front of 19,066 fans at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.
The loss dropped the Hilltoppers to 2-8 on the season, while Troy improved to 6-3.
"We knew going in we were going to be short-handed, but that’s why they call it a team and other guys had to step up," said Hilltopper head coach David Elson. "In the fourth quarter, we had a chance, but we just couldn’t get it done."
The Trojans struck quickly on the opening drive of the game, needing just 40 seconds and three plays to go 65 yards for the first score of the afternoon. The drive was capped off by a 58-yard touchdown pass from Levi Brown to Andrew Davis as Troy took a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the contest.
The Hilltopper defense limited the Trojans to just 48 yards the remainder of the quarter, and kept it a one-score game until the 7:21 mark of the second quarter when Brown connected with Gerald Tate on a 9-yard TD reception to cap off a nine-play, 63-yard drive to make it a 14-0 game at intermission.
WKU was limited to just 100 yards of offense in the opening half, with 59 of those yards coming on the ground.
With starting quarterback David Wolke sidelined with an injury, Brandon Smith led the Hilltoppers to their first score of the contest on the opening drive of the second half. WKU was backed up inside its own six to start the drive following a illegal block on the kickoff return. However, a facemask penalty got the Toppers out of the shadow of the endzone, and roughing the kicker penalty on fourth down later in the possession kept the drive alive. Smith was then able to cap off the 12-play, 94-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown rush — the first rushing TD of his career — to cut the deficit to 14-7.
The Trojans responded, however, as they quickly moved the ball back down field before settling for a 34-yard Sam Glusman field goal to stretch the lead back out to 17-7 with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Troy was able to move the ball inside the WKU 20 yard line on four consecutive drives late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, but a Ryan Beard interception in the endzone, two missed field goals, and a fumble recovery by Travis Watters kept it a 10-point game. However, the Topper offense was unable to take advantage as the 17-7 score stood at the final horn.
The Hilltopper managed just 216 yards of total offense in the contest. Smith rushed for a career-high 43 yards, and also completed 10 of 22 passes for 56 yards. Jake Gaebler caught a game-high six balls for 27 yards, while Wenquel Graves led the Hilltoppers in receiving yards with 41.
Brown completed 30 of his 46 passes for 298 yards and a both Troy touchdowns, with Davis catching five of those balls for 101 yards. DuJuan Harris rushed 23 times for a game-best 101 yards for the Trojans.
Defensively, Mark Santoro finished with a career-best 11 tackles for WKU, while Boris Lee had seven stops to lead the Trojans.
WKU returns to Houchens Industries next Saturday to host Middle Tennessee at noon (CST) in the final home game of the season. The game will be televised regionally on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast.