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WKU Football takes down FIU 41-28 in regular season finale

Wide+receiver+Malachi+Corley+smiles+after+his+touchdown+during+a+game+against+Sam+Houston+State+University+at+L.T+Smith+Stadium+in+Bowling+Green+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+18%2C+2023.
Dominic Di Palermo
Wide receiver Malachi Corley smiles after his touchdown during a game against Sam Houston State University at L.T Smith Stadium in Bowling Green on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

WKU Football traveled to Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Florida to play Florida International University, where they took down the Panthers 41-28 in their regular season finale.

“It was a great way to finish out the regular season,” WKU Head Coach Tyson Helton said. “I was very proud of our football team. They did a great job tonight. It was a complete team win. We’ve been talking about it for a while. We just hadn’t had a complete team win. It was good to get that win tonight, and now we get ready for a bowl.”

WKU was dominant on offense, showing shades of last year’s team.  Graduate quarterback Austin Reed threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, including strikes from 39 and 45 yards.  He wasn’t the only one to throw a touchdown for WKU, as junior wide receiver Dalvin Smith threw a 32-yarder to fellow wide receiver, senior Craig Burt Jr.

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Junior wide receiver Malachi Corley was another highlight for the WKU offense.  He racked up 52 yards and a touchdown which helped him become WKU’s all-time leading receiver, passing Taywan Taylor in receptions. Corley has 255 career receptions with one game to go.

“It’s been a surreal journey to get to this point,” Corley said. “It’s so many trials and tribulations, ups and downs, playing with so many different teammates. It’s been an overall amazing experience, and being able to do something like this, it feels like my life’s body of work leading up to this point has been completed and I’ve accomplished all I can do for what I’ve done so far. My next step is obviously going to the NFL and trying to do something similar.”

The rest of his teammates caught 25 passes for 281 yards.  The offense was moving all game, making very few missteps.  They scored 21 points in the first quarter and 34 of their 41 points in the first half.  The team finished with 407 total yards.

“I feel like everybody was just playing as one and everybody was just trying to put it all on the line for the seniors,” Stout said. “It’s the last regular-season game and we’re in Florida and we have a whole bunch of Florida people on the team, so I feel like everybody just played together, played as one and just put it on FIU.”

The Hilltopper defense played some of their best ball of the season.  They only allowed 52 rushing yards, held FIU to 8-17 (47%) on third-down conversions, and forced three turnovers, including two interceptions.

WKU was up 41-14 entering the fourth quarter when FIU had two late touchdowns to cut the winning margin to 13.

The Hilltoppers finish the regular season 7-5 (5-3 in CUSA play).  The team will now prepare for their tenth bowl game in the last 12 seasons.  They have made it every year since Helton took over as coach.

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