Hilltoppers win second straight game to close season

Steven Duncan throws a pass in WKU’s game against Ball State on Saturday. The Hilltopper quarterback had 94 passing yards and 55 rushing yards in the 28-20 win. 

Matt Stahl

WKU football ended a disappointing season on a high note by getting its first-ever win at Louisiana Tech, beating the Bulldogs 30-15. 

WKU was led by a collective rushing effort in the win, as the Hilltoppers totaled 196 yards. Redshirt freshman Joshua Samuel totaled a team-high 71 yards. Redshirt senior D’Andre Ferby also posted 67 yards and two touchdowns. The Hilltopper defense also sacked LA Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith five times. 

The Hilltoppers started out strong, taking the ball at their own 18 on the game’s first drive and marching to the end zone. The drive was capped off by an 18-yard rushing touchdown by redshirt junior Lucky Jackson.

On the ensuing LA Tech Drive, the Hilltopper defense continued their momentum from the UTEP game, where they had five interceptions. Redshirt sophomore defensive back Devon Key picked off a pass, and several plays later, redshirt sophomore quarterback Steven Duncan found redshirt senior tight end Mik’Quan Deane for a second WKU touchdown.

In the second quarter, the Hilltoppers continued their dominance, with sophomore defensive lineman DeAngelo Malone coming away with a sack for a safety to make the score 16-0. On the Hilltopper drive following the safety punt, WKU drove down the field again, capped off with a 1-yard rush for the touchdown by redshirt senior running back D’Andre Ferby.

The Bulldogs were finally able to get on the board late in the first half, as redshirt sophomore running back Israel Tucker went 19 yards up the middle for the score after a Duncan interception.

On their last drive of the half, the Hilltoppers attempted to punt, but the Bulldogs broke through and blocked the kick, which bounced through the WKU end zone to add on a safety for LA Tech. The Bulldogs then took over and added a field goal, sending the teams to the locker room with the Hilltoppers leading 23-12.

The Bulldogs got the ball to start the second half and immediately moved the ball deep into WKU territory. The WKU defense stepped up inside its own 10-yard line and held LA Tech to a field goal.

LA Tech had a chance to tie the game later in the quarter, but the WKU defense came up with the stop on 4th-and-goal at its own 1-yard line. Later on, the Bulldogs had another scoring opportunity, but missed a 50-yard field goal.

Both teams continued back and forth with empty drives for the rest of the third and fourth quarters. With less than five minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs attempted to convert a fourth-and-12 in their own territory, but were unable to complete the pass.

On the ensuing drive, Ferby added to the Hilltoppers’ lead with a 36-yard touchdown run on what would be the final carry of his college career to give WKU a 30-15 lead with 4:27 left in the game. The score held and the Hilltoppers got their third win of the season.

The Hilltoppers finished the season 3-9 (2-6 Conference USA). The Bulldogs finished the year bowl eligible at 7-5 (5-3 C-USA). 

Reporter Matt Stahl can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @mattstahl97.