Hilltoppers fall to Mean Green, 40-13

Hilltoppers fall to North Texas during homecoming matchup
Published: Oct. 29, 2022 at 9:05 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Despite 466 yards of total offense, WKU had a tough time putting points on the board as the Hilltoppers fell to North Texas in their homecoming game, 40-13 Saturday night at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

The Tops fell to 5-4 overall on the year with the setback, including a 3-2 mark in conference play.

“Hats off to North Texas, great job by them. They played exceptionally today,” said WKU Head Coach Tyson Helton. “We couldn’t stop them. They made explosive plays and then they stopped us. Very, very disappointing loss for us, so we’ll have to regroup and see what we’re made of. The road doesn’t get any easier, so we’re going to have to come back and get our jaws set and see if we can go get the win next week. Hats off to North Texas because they got after us pretty good today.”

WKU’s 466 total yards on the night were a combined 320 passing yards and 146 rushing yards. Austin Reed threw for all 320 yards on the night while completing 29-of-49 passes. Malachi Corley was his top target with eight catches for 97 yards. Jaylen Hall finished right behind with a season-high 96 receiving yards. L.T. Sanders finished the night as WKU’s top rusher for the second-straight week with 76 yards on 13 carries.

Defensively, JaQues Evans had a big night with a career-high 15 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and one sack. Kendrick Simpkins, Kaleb Oliver and Derrick Smith were all next in line with five takedowns apiece. Simpkins also recorded a pass breakup.

It was a slow start for the Hilltoppers as North Texas jumped out to a 14-0 lead on its first-two drives. The offense finally showed signs of life on WKU’s third drive of the day, going 75 yards on six plays for its only touchdown drive of the game. Reed connected with tight end Joshua Simon from five yards out in the back corner of the end zone to pull the Tops within seven. The touchdown catch was the 13th of Simon’s career, tying him with Tyler Higbee for the most touchdowns scored by a tight end in program history.

The Hilltoppers had multiple chances to score during the remainder of the half, but penalties and failed third-down attempts stalled drives and kept WKU out of the end zone. Brayden Narveson was called upon to kick two field goals in the second quarter and connected on both of them from 43 and 32 yards out.

The second half was all North Texas as the Mean Green scored the final 24 points of the game to put it away. WKU made it down to the North Texas 11-yard line on its opening drive of the third quarter but could not convert on third down and missed a field goal attempt to cut into UNT’s seven-point lead.

The Tops will look to rebound next week when they hit the road for a matchup at Charlotte. Kickoff between the Hilltoppers and 49ers is slated for 11 a.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

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