Football Notebook: WKU’s Homecoming win keeps its bowl hopes alive

Junior running back Leon Allen (33) celebrates with teammates. The Hilltoppers defeated the UTEP Miners 35-27. Mike Clark/HERALD

Kyle Williams

WKU’s shift to the Conference USA brought with it increased bowl opportunities; it’s just up to the team to notch at least six wins in order to earn a bid.

The Hilltoppers (4-5, 2-4 Conference USA) got that much closer on Saturday with a 35-27 win over UTEP (5-4, 3-2 C-USA).

With three games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Hilltoppers must win two of those matchups in order to become bowl eligible, and according to Head Coach Jeff Brohm, WKU has gotten a head start on its postseason mentality.

“We told our team all week that we’re in the playoffs, and that the playoffs have started for us,” Brohm said. “We have to win to advance. Our guys worked hard, they played hard today. They fought through some adverse circumstances, like always, and we found a way to win.”

WKU defense allows seven second-half points

The playoff mentality Brohm and his coaching staff stressed this week paid off, as the Hilltoppers captured their first Homecoming victory since 2011, and it was the defense that made it happen.

The unit allowed just seven second-half points after giving up 20 in the first. Redshirt junior defensive back Wonderful Terry notched the eventual game-winning score with an interception and 90-yard touchdown return with 12:40 left in the final quarter.

The Hilltoppers lead the country in defensive touchdowns of 80 yards or longer with four, and Terry has two by himself. Following the interception, the defense held the Miners to two three-and-outs and a turnover on downs.

“They’re working hard, and we know they’re not going to be perfect,” Brohm said. “They stayed to the grind. They continued to believe in themselves, pick each other up, even when things weren’t going as well. …They found a way to dig deep, and that’s great to see.”

Hilltoppers honor English

Last Friday night, a devastating house fire claimed the life of former WKU commit and football office assistant Tyler English.

As announced earlier this week, the Hilltoppers are wearing a “TE” sticker on their helmets in remembrance of English, and according to Brohm, the team also honored members of English’s family, who were on the sidelines on Saturday.

“We invited them to the game, they were on the sidelines,” Brohm said. “We were able to present (English’s father) with a team helmet, a team jersey, also we put his intials on the back of our helmet for the rest of the year as a sign of how important he was to our family, and that we’re going to miss him.”

To read more about the situation, read Editor-In-Chief Taylor Harrison’s story here.