The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers entered their Saturday morning contest against the Florida Atlantic Owls needing a victory to stay on top of Conference USA East. The Tops jumped out to a quick start on senior day and didn’t look back on the way to a 52-17 victory.
WKU quarterback Bailey Zappe continued his fantastic season under center with 39 completions on 49 attempts for 470 yards with six touchdown passes and two interceptions. Those six touchdown passes were the most he has thrown in a game this season since he threw seven in the Tops’ opening week contest against UT-Martin. It also marked just the second time this season that Zappe threw multiple interceptions in a game.
Bailey Zappe’s touchdown total on the season comes to 48. That gives him the second-highest single season total in WKU history, with only one more needed to tie the program record. It also moves him to fifth in career passing touchdowns at Western Kentucky.
Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley continued his recent hot streak with nine catches for 164 yards and two touchdown catches. That marked Tinsley’s second consecutive game with at least that many after putting up 198 receiving yards last week. Jerreth Sterns also caught 12 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown in this game.
For FAU, starting quarterback N’Kosi Perry finished with 19 completions on 28 attempts for 213 yards with one touchdown pass to senior John Mitchell and two interceptions. Perry was replaced with Nick Tronti, who completed six of 15 for 63 yards and an interception.
FAU’s other points in Bowling Green came from an interception returned for a touchdown by Teja Young and a 35-yard Morgan Suarez field goal.
As a team, FAU put up a particularly bad performance in the run game. With negative yardage runs taken into account, the Owls finished with 25 yards on the ground, their lowest total in that department since the opening week of the 2019 season when the Owls playing Ohio State. That being said, it makes sense that they didn’t see much use for the run game after getting down early.
On the defensive side for Western Kentucky, defensive end DeAngelo Malone earned himself a program record. By getting a solo sack in today’s game, Malone brought his career total to 30.5, making him the all-time leader in the program’s 103-season history.
The biggest defensive highlight of the day for WKU was the performance of sophomore defensive back Beanie Bishop. Bishop was the Tops’ leading tackler on the day with seven, six of which were solo efforts and three of which were for a loss. Bishop also deflected a pass and picked one off.
Linebacker Christian Gomez and defensive back Omari Alexander also had one interception each for the Tops.
Western Kentucky will end their regular season on November 27 with a rivalry game against Marshall in Huntington, West Virginia. If Marshall defeat Charlotte today, the winner of the Moonshine Throwdown will take C-USA East’s spot in the league title game.
Florida Atlantic will end their regular season at home on the 27th with a game against Middle Tennessee State in their last chance at reaching bowl eligibility this season.