Whatley touchdown return helps Mid Tennessee edge W. Kentucky
Bowling Green, KY, United States (4E Sports) – Sophomore Reggie Whatley delivered a tie-breaking 96-yard touchdown return in the final period as Middle Tennessee escaped with a 34-29 victory over Western Kentucky Thursday at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
Whatley finished the game with a school-record 222 yards on six kick returns, and recovered a fumble in the second half for the Blue Raiders (6-3, 4-1 Sun Belt), who climbed to solo second place in the Sun Belt, behind first-place Louisiana-Monroe (6-2, 4-0).
The win also helped the Blue Raiders reach bowl eligibility status for the third time in four seasons.
In his team-record 22nd start, Logan Kilgore completed 11 of 17 passes for 118 yards and two touchdown passes, moving him past the 2,000-yard mark to become the second play-caller in school history to tally back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons.
Kilgore, who tallied 2,231 yards last year, joins Clint Marks who accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2005.
Wide receiver Anthony Amos caught all of Kilgore’s touchdown throws and finished with 66 yards on five receptions. He now has eight touchdown receptions, tying the school mark for third-most in a season and three shy of equaling the school record of 11 set by Kerry Wright in 2004.
Freshman Jordan Parker rushed for a career-high 151 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. In the first quarter, Parker collected 58 yards for a touchdown which went down as the longest run of his career.
The Hilltoppers (6-3, 3-2 Sun Belt) were led by Kawaun Jakes, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 283 yards and three touchdown. He has 18 touchdown throws this season, tying the school record set by Jeff Cesarone in 1985.
Running back Antonio Andrews rushed 25 times for 136 yards and caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown while wide receiver Willie McNeal tallied 119 yards on seven catches and a touchdown for Western Kentucky.
In the first quarter, the Blue Raiders grabbed a 3-0 lead behind a 19-yard field goal by Carlos Lopez before Parker broke through with a 58-yard run to give Middle Tennessee a 10-point lead.
The Hilltoppers answered when Austin Aikens caught a 35-yard pass from Jakes to make it a 10-7 contest.
Kilgore connected with Amos for an eight-yard touchdown to extend Middle Tennessee’s lead to 17-7 but Western Kentucky answered with 10 straight points to tie the game at the break.
The Blue Raiders took the lead after Kilgore found Amos for his second touchdown of the game with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
The Hilltoppers, however, tied the game anew as Jakes found Willie McNeal for a 32-yard touchdown.
In the fourth, Lopez gave the Blue Raiders the lead with a 19-yard field goal but Garrett Schwettman tied the game for the third time with a 28-yard field goal.