FAU pulls away from Hilltoppers in second half

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers running back Joshua Samuel (25) is handed the ball in the first quarter during the NCAA football game between the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on August 31. CHRIS KOHLEY/HERALD

Matt Stahl

WKU football’s losing streak was extended to six games with a 34-15 loss to Florida Atlantic on the road Saturday. 

The Hiltoppers had a chance to stop FAU on a fourth down inside Hilltopper territory on the first drive of the game, but they were unable to prevent the Owls from converting and soon after gave up an 8-yard touchdown run to redshirt junior running back Kerrith Whyte.

The Owls extended their early lead later in the quarter when redshirt freshman kicker Vladimir Rivas, who had previously missed from 29 yards, made a 30-yarder to make the score 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Hilltoppers were able to get themselves on the scoreboard early in the second. After redshirt freshman running back Joshua Samuel took the ball 68 yards to the FAU 13, redshirt sophomore quarterback Steven Duncan found redshirt senior Mik’Quan Deane for the touchdown. But the extra point was blocked, making the score 10-6.

WKU gave itself a chance to take the lead in the second after redshirt junior defensive back Ta’Corian Darden took an interception into FAU territory. The Hilltoppers were unable to capitalize as Duncan threw an interception of his own on the first offensive play.

WKU was able to add some more points at the very end of the half, as redshirt junior kicker Alex Rinella made a 40-yard field goal to make the score 10-9 at halftime.

After halftime, the Owls kept on attacking the Hilltoppers, with junior running back Devin Singletary torching the WKU defense for a 40-yard touchdown run.

Singletary, who moved up to a tie for sixth all-time in the Football Bowl Subdivision for rushing touchdowns, ended the game with 149 yards

Early in the fourth quarter, the Owls went on another long drive ending with a 22-yard field goal by Rivas to widen the gap to 20-9.

After another punt by WKU, FAU took over at their own 35 and marched the ball down the field to score another touchdown, with Singletary taking it in from the 1-yard line.

WKU kept fighting late, with redshirt senior running back D’Andre Ferby scoring a touchdown, followed by an onside kick that the Hilltoppers were able to recover. But the ensuing drive fizzled out at the FAU 13-yard line, where WKU couldn’t convert on fourth down.

The Owls immediately capitalized on the Hilltoppers’ ineffectiveness, with Whyte adding on another rushing touchdown, going 77 yards to make the score 34-15 in FAU’s favor, a score that the Owls held to end the game.

Whyte ended the game with 172 yards. Both Singletary and Whyte both rushed for more yards individually than the Hilltoppers did as a team, 123 yards. But Samuel became the first Hilltopper running back to rush for 100-plus yards in a single game in the Mike Sanford era, as he racked up 101 yards on 15 carries. 

The Hilltoppers will be back in action on Saturday for their final home game of the season against Texas-El Paso.

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