Tops take down Florida Atlantic in overtime thriller

Hilltoppers clutch a 32-31 overtime win over FAU to end regular season play
Published: Nov. 26, 2022 at 4:42 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - After Florida Atlantic scored a touchdown on the first possession of overtime to take the lead, Austin Reed ran in a touchdown of his own from a few yards out, leaving Head Coach Tyson Helton with a big decision on whether to kick the extra point to tie the game, or go for two to win it. Helton elected to try a two-point conversion, and Reed connected with tight end Joshua Simon in the front corner of the end zone to give WKU a 32-31 victory over the Owls Saturday afternoon at FAU Stadium.

The victory helped the Tops cap the regular season with an 8-5 record, and 6-2 mark in Conference USA play.

”I’m just really proud of our football team and how they kept battling,” said Helton. “Nobody batted an eye. Going into overtime, sometimes in the hot weather like this, you look drained. Our guys were re-energized. It is just a great team win. I am just really proud of them, and FAU is a good football team. Very talented football team. This was going to be a tough win for us here. It’s great when you have those big wins, and I thought our offensive staff there at the end when we went for two. We practice the two-point plays all of the time, we have a bunch of them. Nobody blinked. Nobody said, “do we go for two?” We knew we were already going for two. Just a great win. Very happy for our football team.”

WKU outperformed FAU for the majority of the game, but the Owls hung around and finally took the lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. WKU had multiple attempts to tie the game but failed to score or convert on fourth down. Faced with another fourth down with just minutes remaining, Reed connected with wide receiver Jaylen Hall on a 22-yard touchdown pass which evened the game up at 24 points apiece.

Florida Atlantic had one final opportunity to win the game on the last possession of the contest. After taking over a WKU stalled drive, the Owls marched down to the WKU 28-yard line where they attempted a 46-yard field goal as time expired. The kick missed wide left and kept the Tops alive to get to overtime and win the game.

Reed finished the game with 410 passing yards and three touchdowns, and his additional score on the ground in overtime. Malachi Corley and Hall both had big receiving days for the Tops with 127 yards and 118 yards, respectively. Corley caught touchdown passes of 46 and 45 yards, and Hall had the game-tying touchdown catch from 22 yards out. Davion Ervin-Poindexter led the rushing attack on the day with 108 yards on 17 carries. It was the first 100-yard rushing game for Ervin-Poindexter, setting a new career high.

Defensively, linebackers Derrick Smith and Will Ignont combined to lead the Tops in tackles with nine apiece. Smith also recorded WKU’s lone pass breakup of the game. JaQues Evans pitched in seven tackles of his own, which gives him 100 tackles for the season.

WKU will now wait to learn its bowl game destination after clinching bowl eligibility earlier in the year against Rice. The bowl game, kickoff time, and ticket information will be made public as soon as it is available.