For whatever reason, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers haven’t had the easiest time the last several years with FCS opponents. They exercised some of those demons on Thursday night in a resounding 59-21 victory over the UT Martin Skyhawks.
The main talking point of this game was the success of Western Kentucky’s passing game. The Tops finished the day with 587 yards of total offense, 478 of which came through the air. Bailey Zappe, the Houston Baptist transfer, was 28 of 35 on the night. Zappe finished with seven touchdown passes, which is the second highest single game total in WKU history.
— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) September 3, 2021
With that touchdown pass, Zappe becomes the first QB in Hilltopper history to throw for 7 scores in a single game at Houchens-Smith Stadium!
: https://t.co/q7CqWTT7D8#GoTops | @ESPNStatsInfo pic.twitter.com/941Fwdaahp
San Diego State transfer Carson Baker also stepped in at quarterback in the closing minutes of the game and showed off his own arm with a 54-yard touchdown pass.
Zappe’s old Houston Baptist teammate Jerreth Sterns was the Tops’ leading receiver on the night with seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the scoreline, the rust was apparent for both sides. WKU racked up nine penalties for 79 yards. UT Martin earned 8 for 69 yards. In the early going, both teams had turnovers as well. Zappe threw one early INT while UT Martin’s Keon Howard also threw one and running back Zak Wallace lost a fumble.
WKU’s defense also allowed UT Martin to convert 10 of 19 third downs while accumulating 201 rushing yards on 34 attempts. The Tops will need to kick that habit in their second contest.
Western Kentucky will hit the road for their next game as they head to West Point for a showdown with Army on September 11.