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WKU Football defeats Houston Christian 52-22

Emilee Arnold
Sophomore wide receiver Jimmy Holiday (6) and junior offensive lineman Mark Goode (76) celebrate after a touchdown during WKU’s game against Houston Christian on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. WKU won 52-22.

20,000-plus fans piled into Houchens Industries L.T. Smith Stadium Saturday night for the White Out Night as Western Kentucky handled business for their second home game against Houston Christian. WKU claimed a 52-22 victory over the Huskies.

The Hilltoppers opening drive of the evening immediately set the momentum early for the Hilltoppers. Houston Christian quarterback Colby Suits, graduate transfer from ULM, led the Huskies for a short drive that resulted in a forced fumble by redshirt sophomore linebacker Aaron Key, which was promptly recovered by defensive edge JaQues Evans.

  • The First Quarter:
  • 13:24: The Toppers started their first drive in the redzone following the turnover, which resulted in a quick five-yard touchdown strike from redshirt senior quarterback Austin Reed to redshirt sophomore tight end Hunter Helms. 
  • 11:08: Following a quick three and out for the Huskies, the Hilltoppers quickly began their second drive from their own 35 yard line. The seven play, 65-yard drive with a 20 yard touchdown pass from Reed to redshirt sophomore receiver Blue Smith, bringing the score to 14-0 within the first six minutes of the game.
  • 8:09: Following the quick drive, the Hilltoppers immediately had a special “kicker recovers the kick moment”, as senior Cory Munson recovers it after a midfield scramble for the ball. Redshirt freshman receiver Easton Messer then opened the Tops drive with a long 18 yard run. The drive ended with a 27-yard field goal from kicker redshirt sophomore Lucas Carneiro. 
  • 1:43: The Huskies took the field again, never getting past midfield as the drive was halted by a 53-yard pick-six by redshirt sophomore defensive back Upton Stout, bringing the score to 24-0 before the end of the first quarter. 
  • The Second Quarter:
    • 11:26: The Huskies drive resulted in a touchback, with a 32-yard strike from Suits to receiver Karl Reynolds fumbled at the one-yard line, resulting in a turnover, where the Hilltoppers would take over on the HCU 20 yard line.
    • 7:59: Three carries and 34 yards later from redshirt senior back redshirt senior Markese Stepp, Reed delivered a 21-yard touchdown pass to Messer in the corner of the endzone. The Messer touchdown reception brought the score to 31-0. 
    • 2:36: Following a 10-play, 75 yard drive, quarterback Suits scored the first Husky touchdown of the night, hitting receiver Suits on a 14 yard score. 31-7. 
    • 2:31: Reed and the Hilltoppers offensive unit started the drive on their own 12 yard line. The quick three-and-out resulted in a punt. The Huskies began their drive on their own 39. 
    • 0:19: The Huskies strike again in a seven play, 61-yard drive, with Suits finding senior receiver Karl Reynolds in the corner of the endzone. 31-14.



  • HALFTIME: Reed kneeled to end the first half with a 31-14 score. Reed finished the first half with an exceptional stat line, completing 17 of his 21 passes for 138 yards and three scores. Messer, special teams captain for the night, led the team with three receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown. Junior Kendrick Simpkins and Evans led the team in tackles by the half, combining for nine. Simpkins recorded a sack and two tackles for loss.


  • The Third Quarter:
    • 9:43: The Hilltoppers received the ball to open the half, scoring right away. In a 10 play, 75 yard drive, Reed ran the ball in himself on a three-yard ground score, bringing the score to 38-14. 
    • 0:39: After four three-and-outs from HCU and Western, the Huskies start their third drive of the quarter very late, ending the third round of action for the evening. The Hilltoppers lead the game up 24 points in a 38-14 scoring affair.
  • The Fourth Quarter
    • 11:28: The visitors drove the ball down the field with several big plays between Suits and freshman running back Champ Dozier, resulting in a nine-yard touchdown run by Dozier. In total, the young running back posted 43 rushing yards. The 11 play, 77 yard Huskies drive resulted in both a touchdown and a two-point conversion pass from Suits, bringing the score 22-38, Hilltoppers lead. 
    • 11:25: Redshirt senior running back Davion Ervin-Poindexter and sophomore receiver Jimmy Holiday were the defining names for the Hilltoppers first drive of the fourth quarter. Ervin-Poindexter advanced the Hilltoppers offensive effort 25 yards forward, just enough for Reed to navigate the pocket the very next play to find Holiday for a 38 yard touchdown pass. The score resulted in a 45-22 score, with the Hilltoppers climbing to a very demanding lead. 
    • 7:58: Following a quick three-and-out by the Huskies, the Tops began their second drive of the fourth quarter on their own 30 yard line, with redshirt freshman quarterback Turner Helton taking over the reins for the night. The 10 play, 70 yard drive resulted in a Helton touchdown pass to junior receiver Denzil Alleyne. The Hilltoppers lead increased to 30 points with a 52-22 score. 
    • 0:00: A Hilltoppers victory! 

The Hilltoppers overcame the Huskies in every facet of the game with an exhilarating score of 52-22.

  • The Game’s Leaders:
    • Austin Reed, Quarterback: 27/33, 253 yards, four touchdown passes, 14 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown
    • Markese Stepp, Running Back: Nine carries, 48 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry
    • Easton Messer, Wide Receiver: Seven receptions, 72 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown
    • Kendrick Simpkins, Defensive Back: Six tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss

Football reporter Derrick Deen can be reached at [email protected]

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