Hilltoppers Drop Overtime Heartbreaker to Hoosiers
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Despite leading for nearly the whole game, WKU could not hold on in the closing minutes as Indiana went on to win, 33-30, in overtime Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The setback dropped the Hilltoppers to 2-1 on the season while Indiana improved to a perfect 3-0.
“It was just two great football teams playing back-and-forth,” said WKU head coach Tyson Helton. When you lose a close one like this, you’re always going to look back at three or four plays you wish you could have back. We’ll try to get better from it today.”
Despite the setback, WKU outgained Indiana 545-484 on the day, including a 216-120 advantage in rushing yards. Kye Robichaux produced the best rushing performance of the season for WKU with 135 yards on 14 attempts, including a long of 59 yards. His 159 yards set a new career high, beating his previous output of 67.
Quarterback Austin Reed’s 329 passing yards were his most in a WKU uniform, and the Hilltopper signal caller tossed two touchdowns on the afternoon to go with a rushing score. On the receiving end of those touchdowns were Joey Beljan and Daewood Davis. Beljan and Reed hooked up for a 26-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter to give the Tops a 7-3 lead, while Davis and Reed connected for a 44-yard scoring play in the second quarter.
Davis’ touchdown gave WKU a 14-10 advantage with 11 minutes remaining until halftime. The Hilltopper dense pitched a shutout for the remainder of the second quarter, and a Brayden Narveson field goal extended that lead to 17-10 heading into the locker room. Indiana would then score first in the second half on a field goal, which allowed WKU to extend its lead five minutes later when Reed walked into the end zone from one yard out.
WKU had multiple chances to put the game away during the remainder of regulation but could not capitalize on red zone opportunities. Indiana took advantage of those missed chances, outscoring the Tops 17-6 in the fourth quarter to tie the game up with 47 seconds remaining. WKU used those last few seconds to drive down to the Indiana 27-yard line and set up a potential game-winning field goal, but the attempt missed wide right, sending the game into overtime.
The Hilltoppers started the extra period with the ball and went three-and-out, setting up another field goal attempt. Indiana applied enough pressure on their block attempt to get a piece of the ball and prevent WKU from scoring. On Indiana’s possession, the WKU defense did its job and pushed the Hoosiers back eight yards, setting up a difficult 51-yard field goal attempt. Indiana’s Charles Campbell nailed the kick, though, securing the victory for the Hoosiers.
Davis and fellow receiver Malachi Corley finished the afternoon as WKU’s leading receivers with 77 yards apiece. Jaylen Hall also hauled in six receptions for a total of 60 yards. Robichaux’s big game on the ground was supplemented by Jakairi Moses who totaled 45 yards, including a long run of 29. Defensively, Derrick Smith was WKU’s top tackler with 12 takedowns. He also mixed in two tackles for loss and one sack. Kahlef Hailassie had a big game from his corner position, making nine tackles and breaking up two passes. Two of Hailassie’s tackles were for loss and one was a sack, giving him three sacks in three games this season.
The Hilltoppers will look to get back on track quickly as they now face their Conference USA opener when Florida International comes to town on Saturday, Sept. 24. WKU and FIU will kick at 2:30 p.m. CT with the Hilltoppers returning to the friendly confines of Houchens-Smith Stadium after traveling for their last two contests.