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Western Kentucky Drops 2019 Opener to Central Arkansas

The Tops gave up three fourth quarter touchdowns to start 0-1 on the year.

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

It was a surprising, but familiar result in Bowling Green on Thursday night. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers lost a home game to FCS foe Central Arkansas in Tyson Helton’s head coaching debut.

WKU scored two touchdowns in the first quarter thanks to a 68-yard run by Gaej Walker and a five yard pass from Steven Duncan to Joshua Simon. Walker was arguably the Tops’ biggest bright spot in this game finishing with 152 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.

UCA’s Lujuan Winningham helped the bears respond in the second quarter with a 23-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Breylin Smith. WKU responded a few minutes later with an 83-yard drive capped off by a three-yard Steven Duncan run. Just before half-time, UCA scored again with a 75-yard touchdown drive.

The only score of the third quarter was Gaej Walker’s second touchdown run from ten yards out. WKU took a 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter. UCA would go on to score 3 unanswered touchdowns in the fourth, including an 80-yard score on a halfback pass from Carlos Blackman to Winningham.

Steven Duncan’s day under center could have been worse, but two first half interceptions didn’t help his team’s case. Duncan also finished 26 of 39 with 304 passing yards on the day.

While WKU’s run defense was actually quite impressive giving up a net of of just twenty yards rushing, defending the pass was a different story. UCA finished with 404 yards through the air and four passing touchdowns. WKU only deflected one pass in the game.

The Tops will attempt to rebound next Saturday, September 7th, against FIU in Miami.