The last few plays of Saturday’s windy game between the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the Old Dominion Monarchs can be described as a comedy of errors. That being said, WKU fans probably weren’t laughing very hard as ODU took home the 37-34 victory.
The game was tied at 34-34 when the final second ticked off the clock as a Davis Shanley pass fell incomplete. ODU then picked up a roughing the passer penalty, after which the Tops used an untimed down to attempt a 57-yard field goal from Alex Rinella. The kick was short, but ODU was called for having too many men on the field and Rinella got another shot from 52 yards away on a second untimed down. That kick was also short, but ODU’s Isaiah Harper returned it all the way to the WKU 18-yard line. During the return, WKU picked up a face mask penalty, which moved the ball up to the 9-yard line and gave ODU an untimed down of their own. Nick Rice used that chance to hit the 26-yard field goal and end the game with ODU ahead.
OK, FINE. Here's the full breakdown of how ODU beat WKU in the weirdest of circumstances pic.twitter.com/SKkzjaYJqp— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 21, 2018
Postgame, WKU head coach Mike Sanford Jr. was adamant that Isaiah Harper stepped out of bounds prior to the face mask penalty. If that penalty had not been called, regulation would have ended and the game would have gone to overtime. Fans can watch the final play and judge for themselves on that one.
Despite turning the ball over twice, ODU outgained WKU 508-464 in terms of total yardage on the day. QB Blake LaRussa had an outstanding day going 21 of 32 for 327 yards and a late touchdown pass to Travis Fulgham.
As to what ultimately led WKU to a loss in this one, it was really just a lack of execution late in the game, both offensively and defensively. After taking a 34-27 lead with 1:37 left to play, WKU allowed LaRussa and the Monarch offense to easily drive down the field and tie it up. The Tops also had plenty of other chances to move the ball further in this game, but converted just seven of their 14 third downs.
After picking up their first conference win of the year, ODU are now 2-6 heading into their home game next week against Middle Tennessee State. WKU, on the other hand, drop to 1-6 moving into a week where they will host FIU in Bowling Green.