While the streets of Bowling Green, Kentucky were full of parade floats, Halloween costumes, and alumni returning to Western Kentucky for homecoming, it was the visiting football team that had reason to celebrate.
The North Texas Mean Green won their matchup against the Hilltoppers handily by a score of 40-13. With the win, UNT are now 5-4 overall, with a 4-1 record in conference play. That puts them in second place in the league with three games remaining. The top two C-USA teams will square off in the league championship game following the conclusion of the regular season.
North Texas came out with momentum on their side, jumping out to a 14-0 lead. Austin Aune completed four of his first five attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns, including a 56-yard pass to Damon Ward Jr.
Austin Aune delivers a perfect strike to Damon Ward— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) October 29, 2022
North Texas is rolling!@MeanGreenFB | #CUSAFB pic.twitter.com/hBSuTcKnPh
Austin Reed and the Hilltopper offense were able to get a touchdown back with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter, when Reed completed a 52-yard pass to Jaylen Hall, setting up a five-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Simon. UNT’s Ethan Mooney went on to kick a 39-yard field goal with 1:30 remaining in the quarter.
Brayden Narveson would cut the lead further with a 43-yard field goal in the opening moments of the second quarter. While most of the rest of the period would be a stalemate, Narveson would add another 32-yard field goal with 1:28 left in the half. With 23 seconds remaining, UNT would punt the ball and recover it inside the WKU ten after it bounced off the Tops’ return man. While WKU would prevent a touchdown, Mooney would kick the short field goal to make it 20-13 at the half.
In the third, WKU’s offense went on a 19-play, 83-yard drive that burned eight minutes off of the clock and ended with a missed field goal attempt by Narveson. Two possessions later, the Mean Green would add another passing touchdown for Aune at the end of a four-play, 74-yard drive. WKU would block the ensuing PAT.
Reed would be intercepted by Logan Wilson on the ensuing drive and Ayo Adeyi would quickly take the opportunity to run it in for a dagger of a touchdown from 39 yards out. The Mean Green would pour it on further with an Ikaika Ragsdale rushing touchdown not long after.
No one is catching Ayo!— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) October 29, 2022
39 yards for No. 39@MeanGreenFB | #CUSAFB pic.twitter.com/8bTsoYkBQN
Aune would finish the game 19 of 28 for 317 yards and two touchdowns in one of his best games of the season.
WKU committed nine penalties in the game, including three in the fourth quarter. The defensive highlight of the game for WKU was the performance of JaQues Evans, who totaled 15 tackles, with two TFLs and an assisted sack.
Still to play, North Texas has a home game with FIU next week, a game at UAB after that, followed by a bye and a home game against Rice on Thanksgiving weekend.
Western Kentucky drop to 5-4 overall with a 3-2 record in conference play. They’ll travel to what looks like a resurgent Charlotte team next week, then host Rice, then travel south for road dates with Auburn and Florida Atlantic.