Eastern Kentucky University held Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Western Kentucky University at bay for much of the first half and stayed within striking distance for most of the second half, but lost 31-17 on Saturday at Houchens-Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.
Two touchdowns over a two minute and 36 second span early in the fourth quarter allowed the Hilltoppers (1-0) to build a cushion they would need throughout the game.
A two-yard touchdown run by D’Andre Ferby with 14:56 left in the second quarter got WKU on the board. A 66-yard touchdown toss from Mike White to Lucky Jackson at the 12:20 mark allowed the home team to build a 14-0 lead. The Hilltoppers led 17-0 at the break.
Midway through the second quarter, Luder Jean Louis forced a fumble with a sack and Eric Reed scooped up the ball and raced deep into WKU territory. The Colonels started the drive at the Western 36 yard line. An eight-yard third down pass from Tim Boyle to Neiko Creamer came up a yard short and EKU was stopped on a fourth down run to end the drive.
Eastern Kentucky threatened to put together a scoring drive in the final minute of the first half. A 15-yard pass from Boyle to BK Smith on the first play moved the ball to midfield. However, the drive was doomed by a bad snap and the Colonels were forced to punt.
EKU put together a scoring drive to start the second half. On the second play of the drive, Boyle connected with Ryan Markush for a 50-yard gain to the WKU 22 yard line. Three plays later, Boyle found Smith for 10 yards on a 3rd-and-4 play. On the next play, Boyle hooked up with Markush in the left corner of the end zone for six. Lucas Williams added the extra-point to make it a 10-point game, 17-7.
Another third quarter scoring drive allowed the Colonels to cut the margin to 10 again, 24-14. Boyle engineered a 14-play, 76-yard drive that took 6:19 off the mark. Boyle went 6-for-10 on the drive, capping it with another scoring toss to Markush. This time he found the senior wide receiver from 10 yards out with 2:12 left in the quarter. Jason Lewis gained 23 yards on the ground during the drive.
Eastern strung together another long scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter. The Colonels had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Williams to draw within 14, 31-17, with 5:03 left in the game. The drive covered 56 yards in 13 plays and used 4:39 off the clock.
The Colonel defense forced WKU to punt on its next possession and got the ball back with 3:05 left in the game. The offense moved the ball again, driving to the six yard line before time ran out.
Boyle finished 29-of-46 for 320 yards. He tossed two touchdown passes and did not throw an interception. Markush caught seven balls for 107, including two scoring receptions. LJ Scott had a team high 25 rushing yards on eight carries. Jean Louis and Taquan Evans each finished with 1.5 sacks.
White went 20-for-31 through the air for Western Kentucky. He totaled 264 yards and through one touchdown pass. Jackson caught five passes for 144 yards. Marquez Trigg led the ground game with 61 yards on 16 carries.
The Colonels will be back in action next Saturday when they make the short trip to face Kentucky. Kickoff at Kroger Field is scheduled for noon.
Freshman Alonzo Booth’s first career carry was a five-yard run on 2nd-and-4 in the first quarter.
Tim Boyle completed his first six passes in his first game as a Colonel.
Luder Jean Louis recorded his second forced fumble and third sack as a Colonel.
Ryan Markush’s third quarter touchdown catch was the fourth of his two-year EKU career. His second scoring catch in the quarter was the fifth of his career.
— www.EKUSports.com —
Assistant Athletics Director for Communications & Branding