Hilltoppers drop second straight game, losing 27-24 to Troy

Trojans beat the Hilltoppers 27-24
Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 4:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Football’s late comeback hopes against Troy came up short Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium and the Hilltoppers lost 27-24.

“I thought, first of all, our team battled extremely hard,” WKU head coach Tyson Helton said. “I thought our defense really, really – when we needed to create turnovers, when we needed to stop them – they came through for us. It gave our offense a lot of opportunities. We went against a really good defense today in Troy and I knew it was going to be an uphill battle for us offensively.”

Down 27-17 and with Troy (2-2) driving late in the fourth quarter, Desmyn Baker forced a fumble that went out of the end zone for a touchback, giving the Hilltoppers (2-2) hope for a come-from-behind victory on the road against the Sun Belt Conference foe.

WKU posted a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession, capped off by a 12-yard pass from Austin Reed to Easton Messer to make it 27-24 with 2:29 to play, but the Hilltopper defense was unable to get the stop it needed for another chance with the ball.

Reed finished with 268 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-39 passing in the loss. Malachi Corley caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown and Messer had six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

The WKU defense forced three turnovers on the day, recovering three fumbles, and were led by Deante McCray with 9 tackles and 2 sacks.

The Hilltoppers scored first and led for much of the opening half. K.D. Hutchinson got the Hilltoppers on the board with a 10-yard touchdown run, set up by a Kendrick Simpkins strip sack that was snagged out of the air by Terrion Thompson and returned 63 yards to the Troy 26-yard line.

Troy made it 7-3 with a 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter and took a 10-7 lead with a 40-yard hail mary touchdown pass to Chris Lewis in the end zone on the last play of the half.

The Trojans went ahead 17-7 with a 19-yard touchdown run with 11:37 to play in the third, after WKU held the hosts to a three-and-out on the second half opening drive but muffed the punt.

WKU got back within three with a 22-yard touchdown connection from Reed to Corley later in the third, but Troy took a 20-14 lead into the fourth with a 26-yard field goal.

The Hilltoppers settled for a 24-yard field goal from Lucas Carneiro in the first minute of the fourth quarter, and Troy again extended its lead with an 11-yard touchdown run later in the frame to make it 27-17, and from there WKU’s comeback attempt came up short.

WKU will have a short week before returning to action at home against rival Middle Tennessee on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Houchens-Smith Stadium.