Hilltoppers fall short against Indiana, 33-31, in front of record crowd

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — In front of a record-setting 25,171 fans in attendance in Houchens-Smith Stadium, WKU Football dropped a 33-31 contest to Indiana on Saturday night. The Hoosiers out-gained the Hilltoppers in total yardage 507-to-458, running 92 offensive plays compared to 64 for the hosts.

WKU quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 31-of-44 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions, while Indiana quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. completed 35-of-53 throws for 373 yards. Penix did not throw a touchdown or interception, but did rush for the Hoosiers’ opening score.

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Hilltoppers got on the board with a one-yard touchdown rush by Adam Cofield – his second of the season – to pull within one score. Indiana kicker Charles Campbell then followed with a pair of field goals to put the Hoosiers back ahead 20-7 with 2:42 remaining in the first half.

Zappe and the WKU offense responded with a seven-play, 72-yard drive that took only 102 seconds – culminating in a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Daewood Davis. But Indiana quickly came back with an eight-play, 68-yard drive that took only 55 seconds and Campbell made a 25-yard attempt to give the visitors a 23-14 lead as time expired in the first half.

The Hilltoppers quickly opened the second half with a scoring drive, with Zappe hitting Dalvin Smith for a 13-yard touchdown pass that brought WKU within 23-21 – only 107 seconds into the third quarter. It was Smith’s third career touchdown on only his fifth career reception overall.

Campbell and Hilltopper kicker Brayden Narveson traded field goals as the score moved to 26-24 but the WKU deficit remained at two with 5:53 left in the third quarter.

After both teams went scoreless for the next 15 minutes, it was Indiana who struck next with a one-yard score to go ahead 33-24 with 4:27 left in the fourth quarter. The long, 14-play, 86-yard drive took up 6:19 of the clock and left Zappe and the Hilltoppers with not much of it remaining.

But WKU kept on chugging, pulling within 33-31 after wide receiver Malachi Corley scored on a 19-yard catch-and-run – from a Zappe pass – only 104 seconds later.

When the ensuing Hilltopper kickoff went out of bounds, the Hoosiers took over and were able to gain a first down and run out the rest of the clock, escaping Houchens-Smith Stadium with a two-point win.