WKU falls to Troy in parents’ weekend showdown

WKU+redshirt+senior+wide+receiver+Daewood+Davis+on+a+drive+after+catching+a+pass+during+the+matchup+with+Troy+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+1%2C+2022+in+Bowling+Green%2C+Ky.+WKU+lost+34-27.

Tucker Covey

WKU redshirt senior wide receiver Daewood Davis on a drive after catching a pass during the matchup with Troy on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 in Bowling Green, Ky. WKU lost 34-27.

Joseph Thompson, Sports editor

WKU Football (3-2) was defeated by the Troy University Trojans (3-2) 34-27 Saturday night at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

“Good football team we played tonight in Troy,” head coach Tyson Helton said. “They beat us fair and square. They played good football and the game went the way I thought. Our guys knew it would be a hard-fought game. We battled hard, had some turnovers and some penalties […] when we needed to convert, we didn’t convert.”

The Hilltopper air raid proved to be successful against a tough Trojan defense. The Hiltooppers offense totaled 470 yards, 406 from the air and just 64 on the ground. 

Senior wide receiver Daewood Davis put on a show against Troy. The senior wideout finished the game with 12 receptions for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Despite one interception early in the game and the fumble in crunch time, senior quarterback Austin Reed delivered a spectacular performance against a stifling Trojan defense. Reed completed 39 of his 56 passes and threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns. 

“They were really solid on defense,” Reed said. “Their front seven was probably the best front seven we have seen all year. We could have done things a bit better. I could have done things better. They played really well and we had a chance at the end of the game to win and we didn’t do it, so that falls on us.”

The Hiltopper struggled against the Trojan’s balanced offensive attack in Saturday night’s game. The defense allowed 560 total yards, 280 passing yards and 280 rushing yards. Four different Hilltoppers recorded a sack and the defense also finished the game with one interception.

Redshirt senior linebacker Derrick Smith dominated the Trojans’ offense. Smith finished with seven solo tackles, one tackle-for-loss and the game’s sole interception. 

The Trojans’ coaching staff decided to make a quarterback change late in the third quarter, bringing in former WKU quarterback Jarret Doege. Dodge transferred from the Hill prior to the season after Reed was named the starting quarterback, never playing a regular season snap for the Hilltoppers. 

Doege finished the game by completing seven of his eight passes, throwing for 71 yards and two touchdowns to give Troy the lead late in the game. 

Q1

The Hilltoppers won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Hilltoppers came out the gate on fire – Reed completed his first five passes to four different receivers.

The opening drive concluded when Reed drew first blood with a 13-yard pass to receiver Joshua Simon to give WKU a 7-0 lead after a Brayden Narveson extra point. 

The Trojans proved to be able to move the ball against the Hilltopper defense early in the game. Trojan quarterback Gunnar Watson completed his first three passes until WKU held strong and forced the visitors into a 4th-and-7 on WKU’s 32. 

The Trojans did not waiver, going for it on fourth down on the opening drive. Watson completed a pass in the middle of the field for the Trojan first down. The Hiltltoppers would hold the Trojans to a field goal after a sack and incompletion.

WKU’s next drive stalled out, resulting in a punt.

The Trojans’ second drive was successful. Troy marched 93 yards down the field in seven plays. On the first play, Watson threw a 20-yard pass to receiver RaJae’ Johnson. Watson then threw another strike down the field to receiver Tez Johnson for 25 yards. Running back DK Billinsgley scored the first Trojan touchdown of the day on a 21-yard run. The Trojans ended the first quarter with a 10-7 lead.

Q2

The second quarter started with an Austin Reed interception that was returned to the WKU 21. During the interception, Troy was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct that brought the ball back to the WKU 36. Derrick Smith returned the favor with an interception of his own.

The Hiltoppers began their second drive of the quarter with the ball on their own 27 but were forced to punt. The next few drives would result in punts for both sides.

WKU finally put together a good drive at the 8:46 mark. Reed completed a 13-yard pass to Davis after struggling to get him the ball on previous drives. The Hiltoppers controlled the ball for the next five minutes of the game until Narveson’s field goal tied the game 10-10 with three minutes left in the first half. 

WKU marched down the field once again after a Trojan three-and-out, attempting to take the lead going into halftime.

With great field position, Reed threw a 34-yard dot to receiver Michael Mathison for his second touchdown pass of the night. Narveson’s extra point was good, giving the Hiltoppers a 17-10 lead with a minute left in the quarter. 

Troy responded to the WKU touchdown with a 55-yard bomb from Gunnar Watson. Watson’s pass put the Trojans at the Hilltopper 26. The WKU defense held strong and forced the Trojans to kick a field goal at the end of the first half. WKU led 17-13.

Q3

Troy opened the second half by matching down the field with a balanced offensive attack. Watson threw three passes for 49 yards and Troy rushed for 28 yards before taking the lead. Troy would score from a Watson seven-yard touchdown pass. The Trojans took their first lead of the night, 20-17. 

The Hiltoppers started the second half shaky on both sides of the ball. Helton’s offense went three-and-out on its opening offensive drive, handing the ball back to the flourishing Trojan offense. 

Troy got the ball back with tough field position at its own six yard line. Helton’s squad forced another Trojan three-and-out 

WKU got the ball back with good field position on irs own 46. WKU mustered just 17 yards leading to a 47-yard Narveson field goal. WKU tied the game at 20 going into the fourth quarter.

Q4

Doege started the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass to receiver Jabre Brown for 16 yards to give Troy a 27-20 lead.

The Hilltoppers’ opening drive of the quarter started with a false start and an incomplete pass. The drive looked like it would result in a three and out until Reed and Davis hooked up for a 10-yard gain and first down.

The Hiltoppers would give the ball right back to Doege and the Trojans after three straight Reed incompletions. WKU was forced to punt. 

Troy received the ball at its own 39. Troy began the drive with three straight runs, opening up the passing game for Doege. Doege completed a 16-yard pass to receiver Deshon Stoudemire.  Doege threw his second touchdown of the quarter to Tez Johnson for 10 yards. Troy led 34-20. 

The Hiltoppers responded with a lengthy drive to narrow the lead. Reed connected with Mathison for a 55-yard dime that landed WKU at the Troy six yard line. 

Hilltoppers fans held their breath as Robichaux proceeded to fumble in the red zone. Robichaux regained his fumble at the nine yard line and maintained possession for the Hilltoppers. 

Following a false start penalty, Reed threw his third touchdown of the night to Davis, narrowing the Trojan lead to seven at 34-27 with four minutes left. 

Troy’s drive started at its own 25. The Trojans opened the drive with four straight rushes, playing conservatively. The Hiltopper defense made a crucial stop, giving Reed and the offense a chance to tie the game. 

The Hiltoppers secured the ball with 1:46 left in the game at their own 11. Reed started the drive with a three-yard pass to Davis. Reed then rushed nine yards for the Hiltopper first down. Reed followed his run with a 27-yard strike to Mathison, landing at midfield. 

The Hiltoppers were putting together a promising drive until Reed fumbled at the Trojan’s 27 yard line while being sacked at the 1:01 mark of the fourth quarter.  The Trojans drained the clock and held on to their 34-27 victory.

The Hilltoppers will look to bounce back next Saturday in San Antonio, Texas, against the UTSA Roadrunners at 5 p.m. CT in the Alamodome.

Sports editor Joseph Thompson can be reached at [email protected]