Hilltoppers hold on to defeat MTSU for first win of the season

Graduate linebacker Eli Brown celebrates following a sack on MTSU’s quarterback Asher O’Hara.

Matthew Hargrove

The Hilltoppers (1-2), (1-0, C-USA) defeated the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (0-4), (0-2, C-USA) by a score of 20-17. 

Graduate quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome led the way for the Hilltoppers tossing two touchdowns while throwing 188-yards and rushing for 55-yards. 

Out of the gate, the offense was hard to come by with the respective programs obtaining three and outs on their first two possessions. 


Senior defensive end DeAngelo Malone came up big in MTSU’s third drive of the game blocking a field goal attempt by redshirt senior kicker Crews Holt. 

The Hilltoppers and Blue Raiders came out of the first frame of play without any score. WKU began the second quarter on third and 21. 

Pigrome set up redshirt sophomore kicker Brayden Narveson for the first score of the game with a 12-yard pass to sophomore wideout Dayton Wade. The redshirt sophomore booted a 47-yard field goal to take the early 3-0 lead. 

The Blue Raiders marched down the field for the next 6:18. Redshirt junior quarterback Asher O’Hara led the MTSU offense to WKU’s one-yard line before scoring a rushing touchdown to make it 7-3 MTSU. 

Redshirt senior Gaej Walker fumbled the pigskin with 5:02 remaining in the half. The Hilltoppers were forced back on defense on the MTSU 31 yard line. 

Redshirt sophomore wideout Jarrin Pierce picked up a 29 yard gain setting up the Blue Raiders on the WKU 31 yard line, threatening to score on back-to-back drives. 

MTSU booted a field goal at the 2:59 mark to pull ahead 10-3 before the half. Holt nailed a 44 yarder to add to the Blue Raiders score. 

The Hilltoppers put together their best drive of the game right before the half that saw a 6-yard touchdown pass from Pigrome to redshirt senior wideout Xavier Lane to tie the game at 10.

At the half, the Blue Raiders led the way with 171 yards on offense and WKU had 50 rushing yards compared to MTSU’s 46 yards on the ground. 

The Hilltoppers began the second half on the 25-yard line searching for new life on the gridiron in the second half. 

WKU couldn’t find that momentum to start the third quarter having to punt from their own 42-yard line, which gave way for the MTSU offense to get going in the second half.  

Another big stop by the Hilltopper defense on their own side of the field as they continued to contain O’Hara and company in check. WKU would have to take over though at their 1-yard line.

Pigrome was able to do just enough and drive his team 64-yards down the field to allow Narveson to hit a 53-yard field goal to give the Hilltoppers back their lead at 13-10 heading into the final frame.

To begin the final 15 minutes, WKU put the nail in the coffin thanks to a 6:39 touchdown drive that ended with an 11-yard pass from Pigrome to sophomore tight end Joshua Simon 

On that same drive, the Hilltoppers got a surprising amount of production from junior running back Jakari Moses. 

“I just felt like we needed a little bit of a spark to get something in the run game. Jakari has always kind of been that guy you can plug in and he went out there and gave us that spark,” Head Coach Tyson Helton said.

Moses ran for 36-yards on five rushing attempts after not having a single attempt throughout the entire game. 

MTSU on a last-ditch effort pushed down the field saw O’Hara set up the Blue Raiders on the 14-yard line after a 28-yard rush. 

This allowed the veteran quarterback to find redshirt senior receiver C.J. Windham on a 2-yard pass in the front corner of the endzone to cut the deficit to 20-17.    

The Hilltoppers recovered an onside kick with 2:05 remaining and ran the clock all the way down to zero from there.

Up next WKU will host Marshall for homecoming on Oct. 10 with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.

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