Pigrome’s late touchdown gives Hilltoppers first win in two weeks

WKU running back Gaej Walker (5) and quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome(1) strike a pose before their game against UTC Oct. 24, 2020.

Matthew Hargrove

Graduate quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome proved Saturday afternoon that he can still be the go-to signal caller for the Hilltoppers (2-4), (1-2, C-USA) this season.

Pigrome found junior receiver Craig Burt Jr. in the endzone with roughly 1:21 left in the game to seal WKU’s 13-10 win over the University of Chattanooga (0-1).

After coming in for banged-up redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevaris Thomas late in the third quarter, Pigrome went on to throw for 73 yards going four for eight passing and one touchdown pass.

The Hilltoppers now make their way out west to play arguably their greatest opponent of the season in Brigham Young University (6-0).

The Cougars are coming off a 52-14 massacre victory over Texas Southern, which has kept BYU in the top 25 rankings at No. 12.

The WKU defense will need to stop junior quarterback Zach Wilson if they want to help their team come away with an upset. Wilson has thrown for 1,928 yards and 16 touchdowns, while only having one interception in six games played.

Wilson’s favorite target in junior receiver Dax Miline will also be a handful, as the veteran has 639 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions.

Kickoff against BYU is slated for 9:15 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Halloween.

Right out of the gate UTC showed that  just because this was their first organized game in a while, it didn’t mean that they shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Senior quarterback Drayton Arnold led a 14 play opening drive that took up about half of the first quarter clock to get into the endzone. Arnold had a 10-yard run to give the Mocs a quick 7-0 lead.

The Hilltoppers early offensive out-burst came from senior running back Gaej Walker, who picked up his season high rushing total on his first carry of the game going 38-yards.

Walker totaled an extra 13 rushing yards on WKU’s opening drive to allow freshman kicker Brayden Narveson to cut the deficit to four with a 32-yard field goal. After that, both offenses couldn’t produce anything positive the rest of the half.

“I really like what he did today, it was like last year — he ran the ball strong, broke tackles,” head coach Tyson Helton said about Walker’s performance.

The Mocs not being able to convert on fourth down in enemy territory, as well as Thomas’ fumble inside the redzone, forced the score to remain at 7-3 at the half. Thomas only had 59 passing yards when heading into the locker room.

“It’s funny how 2020 is working, it seems like all these teams that haven’t played seem to be playing pretty good,” Helton said. 

The action in the second half didn’t start up till after a Mocs fumble recovery on a punt, leading to a 22-yard field goal from UTC’s Victor Ulmo.

Senior running back Jakairi Moses found his form in the third quarter with a 22-yard run, which gave way to Narveson booting his second field goal of the game from 32-yards to move the score to 10-6.

At the end of the third, Thomas was sidelined with a hip injury, giving Pigrome an opportunity to prove himself after losing the starting job two weeks ago.

The graduate’s time to shine came in the final minutes of the game, when he threw a touchdown pass to Burt Jr. on fourth and four inside the five-yard line.

“You know, Pig threw it up there, he let me go get it however I could go get it and I went to make a play,” Burt Jr. said.

WKU almost immediately lost their first lead of the game, as a touchdown return on the Hilltoppers kickoff was later ruled a fair catch.

“We knew something was going to go in our favor. We all knew that we needed this win, so it had to go our way. Even with that touchdown we still knew we had to stop them and get a turnover,” senior linebacker Eli Brown said about UTC’s called back kickoff return.

The UTC offense couldn’t capture any momentum after that, giving WKU the 13-10 win and their first victory in two weeks.

The Hilltoppers will now face #12 BYU in hopes of pulling off their biggest upset of the season. Fans can watch the game on ESPN. 

Football beat reporter Matthew Hargrove can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MatthewHargrov1