WKU beats FAU, loses C-USA title bid after UNT victory


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers junior wide receiver Michael Mathison (4) runs the ball against the Troy University Trojans Saturday evening, Oct. 1, 2022 on Jimmy Feix Field on the WKU campus in Bowling Green, Ky. Hilltoppers fell to the Trojans 34-27.

Camden Bush, Football reporter

WKU Football(8-5,6-2 C-USA) defeated the FAU Owls(5-7,4-4C-USA) 32-31 in an overtime thriller to close the 2022 regular season Saturday, winning the game but failing to clinch a spot in the Conference USA Championship.

The Hilltoppers won off of a two-point conversion in overtime in an extremely tight contest. The Owls missed a field goal at the end of regulation that gave the Hilltoppers an opportunity in overtime. 

With the win, WKU had an opportunity to advance to the C-USA championship game with a North Texas loss. North Texas ended up defeating Rice 21-17 in a close battle to keep the Hilltoppers out of the title game and prevent a WKU vs UTSA rematch.


The WKU offense had a huge day as the unit put up 571 yards of total offense. The Owls managed to stay in it, however, as the WKU offense fumbled twice and went 2-6 on 4th down attempts.

Graduate quarterback Austin Reed put together another huge performance that led the Hilltoppers to victory. Reed threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. Reed also rushed for 18 yards and a touchdown.

The Hilltoppers’ receiving corps had a huge day as sophomore Malachi Corley and graduate senior Jaylen Hall each had eight receptions and over 100 yards. Corley tallied 127 yards and two touchdowns, while Hall had 118 yards and one touchdown. 

Redshirt junior running back Davion Ervin-Poindexter also had a huge day for WKU. Ervin-Poindexter rushed for 109 yards on only 17 attempts and had a 29-yard completion.

The WKU defense struggled on the day as it allowed 31 points on 284 passing yards and 178 rushing yards. The defense also failed to force any turnovers, but the offense brought the Hilltoppers to victory.

First Half

WKU received the opening kickoff of the game. With their first drive, the Hilltoppers brought the ball out to midfield, but FAU forced a fumble to end WKU’s first drive. 

The Owls first drive began at their own 44 after the fumble, but ended quickly. FAU went three-and-out and was forced to punt after a near fumble set the Owls behind the chains.

The Hilltoppers followed with an unproductive drive in which the team was forced to punt after gaining only one first down. 

On their following drives each team was forced to punt, despite pushing the ball into the opposing team’s territory. 

With their punt, WKU pinned the Owls on their own one yard line. From there FAU was forced to punt again after another three-and-out, resulting in the Hilltoppers next drive starting at their own 45-yard line.

WKU took advantage of the good field position early in the second quarter. After both teams failed to score in the first quarter, the Hilltoppers made it 7-0 early in the second with a 45-yard receiving touchdown by Corley on a pass from Reed. 

FAU then responded with their best drive of the day. The Owls tied it up with an eleven play, 75 yard touchdown drive, that lasted almost four and a half minutes. Redshirt freshman Jahmal Edrine capped off the drive with a 13-yard receiving touchdown that made it a 7-7 game. 

The Hilltoppers pushed the ball into FAU territory again with their next drive. WKU failed to score however, as they turned it over on downs. The Hilltoppers went for it on 4th and 3 at the FAU 34 yard line and failed to convert. 

The Owls were then forced to punt again after only managing to gain one first down after forcing the turnover on downs.

Each team then gained one first down with their following drives, but were ultimately forced to punt. The back-to-back punts ended the first half in a 7-7 tie. 

Second Half

WKU got off to a quick start in the second half. The Owls got the ball first out of the half, but were quickly forced to punt after a three-and-out.

The Hilltoppers then scored a quick touchdown to make it 14-7. After two plays of zero yards, Reed threw for a completion of 24 yards before finding Corley for a 46-yard touchdown on the following play. 

FAU followed with a quick touchdown of their own to tie it back up at 14-14. The Owls drive went 75 yards in only two minutes and one second. Junior Larry McCammon ended the drive with a 48-yard rushing touchdown. 

WKU followed the touchdown with another scoring drive. The Hilltoppers took the lead back on a 51-yard field goal that made it a 17-14 game. The field goal ended a 42-yard drive that lasted just under two and a half minutes.

The Owls responded with a very similar drive, for the fourth straight drive resulting in a score. FAU took the ball 46 yards in two minutes and 20 seconds and ended the drive with a 47-yard field goal to make it 17-17. 

On the next drive, Reed was intercepted at the FAU six yard line on a deep ball on third and 13. 

After the interception FAU went three-and-out and was forced to punt it away again. 

With their next drive, WKU drove all the way to the FAU 38 yard line. The Hilltoppers turned it over on downs however on a 4th and 2 attempt as the third quarter came to a close. 

FAU began the fourth quarter with a touchdown drive that went 62 yards in just under two minutes. The Owls had two passes of at least 20 yards on the drive. McCammon ended the drive with a four-yard rushing touchdown that gave FAU a 24-17 lead. 

WKU followed with a 66-yard drive that went all the way to the FAU five yard line, but the Hilltoppers failed to cut into the Owls lead. WKU converted on one fourth down on the drive, but failed to convert on 4th and goal and turned it over on downs with 8:26 remaining in the game.

The WKU defense responded by forcing a much needed three-and-out to get the ball back to the offense. 

The Hilltopper offense responded with a 66-yard game-tying touchdown drive. On 4th and 9 Reed found Hall for a 22-yard touchdown with only 3:53 remaining. The touchdown came on a contested catch and tied the game 24-24.

Both teams punted with their next possessions, leaving FAU with the ball at their own 32 with 38 seconds left in the game. 

FAU proceeded to drive it into field goal range with four seconds remaining. The Owls attempted a 46-yard field goal, but missed as time expired, sending the game to overtime.


The Owls got the ball first in overtime and scored a touchdown on their second play. Edrine made a contested touchdown catch from 25 yards out to give FAU a 31-24 lead.

WKU then had to add a touchdown to keep the game alive. The Hilltoppers did just that as a 21-yard reception by Corley brought them down the field and Reed capped off the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown.

The Hilltoppers then decided to end the game with a two point attempt. Reed found Joshua Simon in the end zone to convert the two-point try. The conversion gave WKU a 32-31 victory. 

Up next, the Hilltoppers will wait to see what bowl game they will participate in after narrowly missing out on the C-USA Championship game.