In another stellar day for Mike White, Western Kentucky defeated Old Dominion by a score of 35-31 on Friday night. White was 24 of 34 for 304 yards with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception on the night. It was the second straight week that White was able to throw 5 TDs in a game.
The Tops and the Monarchs were neck and neck until the end of the second quarter when WKU’s Kyle Bailey picked off Steven Williams inside the ODU 20 and Mike White found Cameron Echols-Luper in traffic three plays later for a 13-yard touchdown. WKU would take a 21-14 lead into halftime.
Old Dominion opened the second half with a 10 play, 61-yard drive that ended with Ray Lawry running it in from 14 yards out. WKU would turn the ball over to the Monarchs on the subsequent drive when Quinton Baker fumbled and ODU kicker Nick Rice nailed the only field goal of the day, giving ODU back the lead.
After a WKU punt, Ray Lawry would break a 46-yard run for 6 points to cap off a 94-yard drive to put ODU up 31-21. Lawry finished the day with 27 carries for 166 yards and 3 TDs.
At the start of the fourth quarter, WKU began their comeback with a 9 yard touchdown pass to Nacarius Fant from White. That 69-yard drive was helped along by a critical personal foul on ODU’s Denzel Williams on a 3rd and 7 for Western. On the first play of ODU’s next drive, Steven Williams was intercepted for the second time, this time by Drell Greene. That set up another quick scoring drive for the Hilltoppers where White hit Quin Jernighan from 30 yards out, giving WKU the 35-31 lead.
ODU drove down to the WKU 26 on the next possession, but Lawry fumbled and the Tops recovered with 2:25 to play. WKU only ran 3 plays for a net of 0 yards on the ensuing possession. It was enough to run the clock down to 48 seconds and they punted.
Steven Williams then completed 3 straight passes to go 19 yards to the WKU 40. Williams then attempted to spike the ball and stop the clock with 1 second left, but the Monarchs were hit with an illegal formation penalty that backed them up 3 yards.
Ordinarily, you think there would be a ten second runoff in that situation, right? But the Monarchs were afforded a final play. Here’s the explanation for it.
At any rate, ODU’s final play was a Hail Mary pass from Williams that was intercepted by Leverick Johnson, securing the Tops’ victory.
The game was chippy all around. WKU was penalized 5 times for 84 yards while ODU got hit with 9 penalties for 84 yards. On top of that, there were definitely one or two moments where it looked like the physicality of the game could escalate into something more. Overall, concerns with the officiating were heavily present on Twitter throughout the game.
Very questionable personal foul call on Denzel Williams. First down at the 11. Bobby Wilder highly indignant as the replay is shown.— Dave Johnson (@DaveJohnsonDP) October 21, 2017
At the end of the day, the four turnovers to WKU’s two were really what killed ODU here. The Monarchs even beat the Tops’ yardage total 448 to 416. Old Dominion’s defensive front put on a strong performance, as was expected, holding WKU to only 73 yards rushing. They also sacked Mike White 3 times and hurried him 5 times. Western Kentucky’s overall successful day was due once again to them being able to spread the ball around and pull off big, explosive plays. The Tops were 3-5 in the red zone while ODU was a perfect 4-4 when they could move the ball inside the 20.
WKU (5-2, 3-1 in C-USA) next faces Florida Atlantic on 10/28 in Bowling Green. ODU’s (2-5, 0-3 in C-USA) next game is the same day as they head to North Texas.