It ended up being the type of nail-biter that the 100 Miles of Hate rivalry deserves. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers were able to hold off a late rally by the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders for a 20-17 victory and their first win of the season.
With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, WKU kicker Brayden Narveson drilled a 53-yard attempt through the to give the Tops their first lead of the half at 13-10. The two teams traded punts until six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Tyrell Pigrome hit Joshua Simon for an 11-yard touchdown.
Asher O’Hara then led his MTSU side on a 75-yard touchdown drive to cut the deficit to three with just over two minutes left. The Blue Raiders then attempted an onside kick that was unsuccessful and WKU were able to run the clock.
O’Hara finished the night with 217 yards through the air, 98 rushing yards, and two total touchdown.
Tyrell Pigrome turned in the best performance of his young WKU career with 188 passing yards and two touchdowns on 21 completions.
In addition to the narrow scoreline, WKU and MTSU were close to even in just about every category. WKU totaled 326 yards on offense, MTSU got up to 319. WKU picked up 21 first downs, MTSU picked up 18. WKU held the ball for just three minutes longer.
While it was by no means a perfect performance from Pigrome and the Tops, this victory was much-needed after two disappointing losses to start the season. Despite a great individual performance from O’Hara, there’s clearly cause for concern as MTSU begin the campaign with four straight losses.
Western Kentucky now will return to Bowling Green for yet another rivalry game, this time against the Marshall Thundering Herd, on October 10.
Middle Tennessee will head south to take on FIU the same day.