It wasn’t the prettiest win of the Tyson Helton era, but it was enough to get WKU another trip to the postseason. The Hilltoppers hosted the Sam Houston Bearkats on Saturday night and managed to secure a 28-23 victory.
The Tops are now bowl eligible for a fifth-straight season. They have played in a bowl game in nine of their previous 14 years in FBS and have been eligible in ten of the last twelve seasons.
The win brings WKU to 6-5 on the season and drops Sam Houston to 2-9 in their first year in FBS.
While the WKU offense turned the ball over five times tonight, the Hilltoppers’ defense forced three of their own, all in the fourth quarter. Dez Baker picked off Keegan Shoemaker in the end zone with 38 seconds remaining to close it out.
“I cannot say enough about our defense,” head coach Tyson Helton remarked postgame. “For them to go out there and get the turnovers, get the stops...You know we had five total turnovers on offense tonight. You’re not supposed to win the game. It says everything about our defense.”
WKU scored the go-ahead touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter when Austin Reed connected with Malachi Corley for a 75-yard score.
Reed finished with four interceptions and a lost fumble, but Helton noted Reed’s ability to make that particular play when they needed it.
“It says a lot about him. It says a lot about his competitiveness,” Helton said. “We all know he did not play well as far as turning the football over. He did some really good things. Made some great throws tonight. But sometimes when it’s not your best night, and you really need it, and you step up to the plate, that’s a big thing and he did.”
The Tops close out the regular season on November 25 at FIU.