Not many, including many of us here at UDD, were giving WKU much of a chance against the undefeated and defending conference champion UAB on Saturday. It had to feel extra satisfying then for Tyson Helton and his players when the final whistle blew in their 20-13 win against UAB.
Grad transfer Ty Storey made the start at quarterback for WKU and finished 15 of 24 for 189 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Tops picked off UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston four times, three of which were in the first half. Linebacker Kyle Bailey picked it off twice with Jeremy Darvin and Trae Meadows adding one each.
The Western Kentucky defense also added three sacks on the day: two from DeAngelo Malone and one from Darvin.
UAB scored first with a 31-yard field goal from Nick Vogel. WKU answered late in the first quarter with a 35 yarder from Cory Munson. UAB regained the lead in the second with a Spencer Brown rushing touchdown from twelve yards out.
Storey answered on the next drive with a touchdown pass to Joshua Simon at the end of an eight play, 68-yard drive. Munson added one more field goal before the end of the half to give WKU the lead.
Vogel would tie it for UAB on his team’s first drive of the second half. WKU’s second and final touchdown, a seven yard pass from Storey to Jahcour Pearson, came at the start of the fourth quarter. That would give the Tops a 20-13 lead, which they would hang on to until the end of the game.
In a year where many expected a revitalized offense under Helton to be the main narrative of this WKU team, it is ironic that the defense is the thing that has people talking to this point in the season. Nevertheless, 2-0 in conference play is not a bad place to be considering they opened the season with a loss to an FCS team.
For UAB, Tyler Johnston will have to show that he can rebound from the kind of bad day that he had. All in all the Blazers’ defense really didn’t perform all that poorly. On two of WKU’s picks, they were able to return the ball into UAB territory, setting up the offense fairly well. WKU finished with just 33 yards rushing and 189 yards passing (222 total) compared to UAB’s 298. A turnover here or another big stop there would have gone a long way considering this ended up being a one score game.
WKU next travels to Norfolk for a clash with Old Dominion next Saturday, October 5th. UAB will return home to host Rice next Saturday.