The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers closed out a close game against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the last week of the regular season by a score of 32-32 in overtime on Saturday.
The Tops spoiled the Owls’ Senior Day festivities as a result, totaling 571 yards on the day. While they didn’t cover the 7.5-point spread, head coach Tyson Helton was excited about his team’s win, despite two turnovers and going two-for-six on fourth down conversion attempts.
“It is just a great team win. I am just really proud of them, and FAU is a good football team. Very talented football team. This was going to be a tough win for us here,” Helton said postgame.
In spite of the loss that will keep FAU from a bowl game, FAU head coach Willie Taggart expressed satisfaction with how his team stayed in contention for the victory until the last play.
“In the past, I don’t think you would’ve seen the team compete like they did,” Taggart said postgame. “I think the way the season was going, up and down, I don’t think you would’ve seen the team just keep fighting back, keep coming back after a loss. But this team is different. They love being around each other, I love being around them.”
How It Happened
WKU tied the game at 24-24 with 3:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. Austin Reed completed a touchdown pass to Jaylen Hall for a 22-yard score. Hall has now caught four touchdowns over the last four games after only scoring once in the first nine games of the season.
Reed finished 28 of 52 through the air with 410 yards through the air, three touchdown passes, an interception, and a rushing touchdown.
FAU’s Carter Davis would miss a 46-yard field goal attempt to win the game as time expired in regulation.
FAU scored first in overtime as N’Kosi Perry would complete a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jahmal Edrine. The Owls would convert the extra point.
Perry finished the game 27 of 39 on passing attempts with 283 yards and two touchdowns, plus 11 carries for 32 yards. Running back Larry McCammon once again played a key role for the Owls with 16 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
WKU answered FAU’s overtime score with Reed’s touchdown run from one-yard out. Helton, by his own admission in postgame, had a play ready to go for a two-point conversion. Reed found tight-end Joshua Simon in the corner of the end zone for the winning score on that play.
“I knew going into overtime. If they scored, we had already talked about it, if for some reason they score a touchdown, when we get the ball, when we score, we are going for two. Nobody blinked there. The play worked to perfection. We work all the time, every week in practice and try to get the ball in your best player’s hands, and that was Josh Simon. Just really proud for him and it was just a great play.”
What Comes Next
Despite WKU’s win, they will not play in the Conference USA championship game since North Texas beat Rice on Saturday. WKU will end their regular season with an overall record of 8-5 and will play in a bowl game, soon to be announced. WKU have reached the postseason in each of Helton’s four seasons as head coach.
FAU drop to 5-7 overall, and will miss the postseason for the second-straight season. Five wins remains the highest win total of Taggart’s head coaching tenure at FAU.