A fast start on offense fuels WKU in 59-7 win over Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, NC. (WBKO) - It took the WKU offense three plays to score two touchdowns to open the game, and the Hilltoppers rode that momentum the remainder of the way in a 59-7 victory over Charlotte Saturday afternoon at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
The victory improved WKU’s record on the year to 6-4, including a 4-2 mark in Conference USA play.
”All week we talked about the month of November. What you do in November, they remember,” said WKU Head Coach Tyson Helton. “That’s one down, three more to go. The guys bounced back. Great performance. We talked about playing our brand of football and how we really wanted to see that today. There was a lot of adversity coming into the game. We took a tough loss, there were a lot of unknowns and a lot of question marks. But for us to come out here and really put us back to where we know, if we play how we’re supposed to play, we can win every football game.”
The Hilltoppers dominated offensively and defensively all afternoon, outgaining the 49ers 594-384. Of all those yards, 409 belonged to Austin Reed through the air as the Hilltoppers’ quarterback set a new season high for single-game passing yards. He also tossed six touchdowns to six different receivers, including five in the first half. His primary target on the day was Malachi Corley who set a new career high with 162 receiving yards, including a 64-yard touchdown.
After the tops dominant start to the game, they cruised to a 35-0 lead at halftime. Reed threw touchdown passes to Jaylen Hall, Corley, Daewood Davis, Joshua Simon, and Joey Beljan through the first two quarters. Simon’s touchdown catch was the 14th of his career, making him the new all-time leader for touchdowns by a tight end at WKU. Simon passed Tyler Higbee who currently plays for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
The offense was greatly aided by an impressive defensive effort as the Hilltoppers forced three turnovers on the afternoon. Defensive back Upton Stout came away with his third interception of the season on Charlotte’s third offensive play of the game, which set up the Reed to Davis touchdown connection on the very next play. Kendrick Simpkins forced a fumble later on in the opening half that Kaleb Oliver fell on. In the fourth quarter, true freshman Anthony Brackenridge also got in on the fun with a 42-yard pick-six. It was the first interception of his career, and WKU’s fifth defensive touchdown of the season.
Reed had one more touchdown pass in him in the second half as he connected with Michael Mathison for a 19-yard score in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback and North Carolina native Darius Ocean then entered the game to close things out, and connected with Dalvin Smith on a 5-yard touchdown pass. It was the seventh touchdown pass of the game to the seventh different receiver, setting a new school record.
Davion Ervin-Poindexter finished the game as WKU’s leading rusher with 49 yards on three carries. One of his three carries set a new career-long when he scampered for 37 yards. Defensively, Derrick Smith was WKU’s top tackler with eight takedowns. JaQues Evans finished right behind with seven tackles, including one sack and three quarterback hurries.
WKU will now return to Bowling Green for its final home game of the season when Rice comes to town for a Nov. 12 showdown. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN+. The Hilltoppers will honor their senior class prior to the game.
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