Saturday’s contest between Western Kentucky and Old Dominion began with a surprise to most as Rickey Rahne and company appeared to bench quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. in favor of redshirt freshman Hayden Wolff. The Venice, Florida product started three games for the Monarchs in 2019, but there was some apparent rust as Western Kentucky moved to 2-4 with a 43-20 win over the Monarchs.
WKU quarterback Bailey Zappe finished the day 37/54 for 397 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. On the other side, Wolff completed 26 of 41 passes for 327 yards, but finished with two interceptions. That 327 yards made for Old Dominion’s best passing day of the season and the first time the team threw for more than 300 yards since their 2019 contest against Middle Tennessee.
Old Dominion began the game with three straight punts, followed by a turnover on downs and Wolff’s first interception. Nick Rice then added a 44-yard field goal for ODU’s only points of the first half before their last drive of the second quarter ended with Wolff fumbling the ball back to WKU. The Tops scored 30 points in the first half off of four Zappe touchdown passes and a Brayden Narveson field goal. Narveson did miss one PAT attempt on the day.
Both teams added another field goal each in the third. ODU mounted something of a comeback in the fourth quarter outscoring WKU 14-10 in that period.
WKU’s defense showed some improvement in this game allowing their lowest opponent point total of the season.
Of his team’s defensive performance, WKU head coach Tyson Helton said the following:
“Well, I thought Coach Crum did a great job of bringing interior pressure, changing up the coverages, getting our best guys on the field. He rotated a lot of guys tonight as well. It made a major impact. Their quarterback wasn’t comfortable in the pocket all night. He didn’t want to have to throw it – got off his spot – now he’s throwing it to us. That’s what good defenses do. So, it was great to see tonight. They did a fantastic job.”
In addition to three turnovers, Old Dominion was flagged 13 times for 117 yards in this contest, further hurting their cause. WKU was only flagged four times for 31 yards. As can be the case when the difference in penalties is that stark, fans at the game and on social media took issue with the officiating in spots on Saturday.
Zappe’s touchdown total for the season now sits at 26. He only needs two more to enter the top ten in career passing touchdowns at WKU. His passing yardage total for the year comes to 2632.
With six games left, Zappe has a very solid chance to break the program single season record for passing yards of 5,055 set by Brandon Doughty in 2015. The Conference USA record is 5671 set by Case Keenum of Houston back in 2009. For those who paid attention to how Zappe has performed his entire college career, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
The Hilltoppers continue their season next Saturday. October 23 at FIU.
Old Dominion continue their season the following weekend when they host Louisiana Tech.