Casey Tinius finally had something to smile
The senior kicker had missed his last eight attempts
coming into Saturday and lost his starting job to freshman Jesse
But as the clock hit zero it was Tinius nailing a
game-winning 34-yard field goal to give WKU (5-4, 5-1 Sun Belt
Conference) an emotional 10-9 home win over Florida International
It was WKU’s fifth straight victory and second
consecutive at Smith Stadium.
The former Bowling Green High School standout, just
1-of-8 on field goal attempts coming into Saturday, said the game
winner was “hands down” the biggest kick of his career.
“Our team deserved that,” Tinius said. “My teammates
deserve, whether it’s Jesse or me, a kicker to go out there and get
the job done.”
Tinius got the chance to kick the game-winner after
Roy failed to get the job done on both his attempts.
The freshman had a 46-yard attempt blocked in the
second quarter and missed a third quarter 41-yard attempt low and
to the left.
It was after the second miss that Taggart elected to
pull Roy in favor of Tinius.
“When it was time for him to go out I was confident,”
Taggart said of Tinius. “After everything we’d been through, the
way the field goal had been going during the game, there was no way
he could miss that ball.”
The Toppers needed Tinius’ heroics after Golden
Panther kicker Jack Griffin gave his side a 9-7 lead with a 43-yard
field goal on the fourth quarter’s first play.
Griffin, who also hit first quarter field goals of 40
and 34 yards, accounted for all of FIU’s scoring.
WKU held the Golden Panthers, who had been averaging
404.8 yards per game, to just 180 yards offensively.
FIU struggled both running the ball (1.9 yards per
carry) and getting the ball in the hands of star wide receiver T.Y.
Hilton (2 catches, 32 yards).
The Topper defense made its biggest stand of the game
on the Golden Panthers’ last drive.
FIU had a 3rd and 3 on its own 18-yard line with less
than three minutes remaining when junior defensive end Quanterus
Smith pulled down Golden Panther quarterback Wesley Carroll for a
That was the last offensive play FIU ran.
“We say defense wins championships and that’s what we
bank it on to help us win a championship,” Taggart said. “We needed
someone to play well, the defense stood up and took care of
business for us.”
The ensuing punt gave the ball back to WKU at its
A Topper offense that had produced just one scoring
series to that point looked as if it was headed for another
disappointing drive after senior running back Bobby Rainey was
stopped for no gain on first down and junior quarterback Kawaun
Jakes fired incomplete to junior tight end Jack Doyle on second
But Jakes hit Rainey in the right flat, and the
Topper star sprinted past the marker for a 12-yard gain.
A late hit penalty called on FIU linebacker Winston
Frasier moved the ball to the Golden Panther 26-yard line.
WKU worked the ball to the 17 before Jakes spiked the
ball to stop the clock with 0:04 remaining, setting up Tinius’
“When you really stop and think about, that should be
a kick that there’s no hesitation for him to send us out there to
try,” Tinius said. “That should be made at least 90 percent of the
time for a college kicker.
Tinius then looked over at Rainey and sophomore
linebacker Andrew Jackson sitting with him on the media room podium
and gave them credit for the win.
“I’m just glad I could do it for these guys,” Tinius
said. “You’ve got Bobby and Drew here who were in the field for who
knows how many plays.
“And I went out there and did one thing. Everybody’s
going to point to that one thing that won us the game, but in no
way was that the case without these two guys.”
Tinius’ field goal secured WKU’s fifth straight win,
its longest such streak since the 2004 season.
WKU also now has a winning record for the first time
since becoming a full Football Bowl Subdivision program in
Rainey said it’s been a wild ride for a team that
just last season broke a 26-game losing streak.
“We’ve been to the bottom,” Rainey said. “The only
way to go is up, and it’s a great way to end for my senior year.
But we’ve still got three more games left, so I’m not going to step
The next of those three games is a trip to Tiger
Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., for a non-conference matchup with No.
The Toppers have never defeated a Southeastern
“I can’t wait, I’m fired up because I know nobody
believes,” Taggart said. “Nobody believe but us, and we’re going to