Bowling Green, Ky. — For the second straight mini-scrimmage, the Western Kentucky University football team’s offense was able to move the ball down the field at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, averaging five-and-a-half yards per snap. However, their counterparts on defense rose to the occasion, limiting the unit to just one touchdown on the afternoon.
A pair of freshmen helped spark the offense, as Bobby Rainey rushed for 54 yards on nine carries while recording the only points of the event while Quinterrance Cooper led all receivers with three catches for 37 yards. And, Rainey added a 14-yard reception with Cooper supplying 28 yards on the ground on a reverse.
The duo combined to post 133 of the offense’s 238 total yards.
“With some wide receivers banged up Quinterrance showed what he can do, and Bobby is going to be a special player,” said head coach David Elson. “They both have done some very good things for us and give us some offensive firepower.
“There’s no question those guys are going to be in the mix. I don’t know how the guys on the team couldn’t notice what we saw out there today. We’ve proven before we’re not afraid to play freshmen, if those guys give us the best chance to win then they are going to play.”
While the Hilltopper defense bent, it only broke once. Not only did the group stop the second-team offense on three plays from the 4-yard line the first time it was threatened in the red zone, but Bo Smith intercepted a pass in the end zone after a deflection by Blake Boyd before the mini-scrimmage ended with back-to-back tackles for loss by Jon Belcher (for five yards) and Andre Lewis (for another 14).
Tyrell Hayden chipped in with 21 yards on six carries as the offense gained 118 yards on the ground, with David Wolke completing 4-of-8 passes for 57 yards. Tyler Bruce finished up 5-of-8 for 51 yards playing with the second-team as the unit gained 120 yards through the air. John Garrett and Brandon Mason were the only other receivers with multiple catches after collecting two apiece.
Dusty Bear paced the defense with six assisted stops, including two behind the line of scrimmage, while Marion Rumph added four total tackles. Jacob Davis’ four tackles led the second-team defense.
The offense started its first three series at its own 25-yard line and failed to cross midfield each drive despite picking up a first down on every possession. The second-team defense also forced a 3-and-out on the next drive that began at the offense’s 45-yard line keyed by a pair of solo stops from Travis Watters.
Rainey helped the second-team put together the first drive of the day that reached the red zone, gaining 24 yards on three carries, while Bruce hit Garrett twice for 23 yards including a conversion on 3rd-and-5 from the defense’s 27-yard line. After a 10-yard pickup set up 1st-and-goal at the 10-yard line Rainey rushed for six more yards to get the offense to the 4-yard line, but Clay Stephens and Terald Clark both stopped Bruce for no gain around an incompletion to end the possession.
Cooper caught a 44-yard pass down the middle of the field on the next drive to give the offense 1st-and-10 at the defense’s 12-yard line, but Smith intercepted a pass two plays later.
On the next-to-last possession of the day, the second-team offense picked up first downs on three straight plays with a 14-yard completion from Bruce to Rainey, a Rainey 11-yard run and a 12-yard reception across the middle by Mason. Rainey scored from one yard out two plays later.
The offense started the final drive with another big play as Cooper went around right end for 28 yards, but back-to-back tackles for a loss of 19 yards ended the threat.
“There were still some turnovers and poor decisions by the offense that were disturbing,” said Elson. “We made some big plays and then couldn’t finish drives offensively, but we’re going to be able to move the ball and I feel good about where we are at with our running game.
“I thought we did some good things on both sides of the ball.”
The Toppers will practice at 9:15 a.m. (CDT) Friday, then have the first of two full scrimmages Saturday at 10 a.m. at Jimmy Feix Field.