BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — In a high-scoring game last season, WKU Football was able to
keep Old Dominion off the scoreboard in the fourth quarter to secure a 35-31
victory. This season – when the Hilltoppers and Monarchs square off on Saturday,
Oct. 20 for a 6:30 p.m. kick off – the defense is hoping for more of the same.
On Oct. 20 of 2017 in Norfolk, WKU intercepted Old Dominion quarterback Steven
Williams, Jr. three times, with two of those leading to touchdowns. The third,
meanwhile, clinched the win on a Hail Mary heave into the end zone as time expired.
Safeties Kyle Bailey and Drell Greene – whose 21st birthday occurred on last year’s
game and 22nd birthday will take place during this year’s contest – picked off one
pass apiece as the Hilltoppers posted a 14-3 advantage in points off turnovers.
Coming off a 40-14 loss at Charlotte in which the defense allowed a season-high in
points – albeit 21 of those came from drives that started inside WKU territory –
defensive coordinator Clayton White has confidence in Greene and the other senior
leaders in the huddle.
“You have to point to your seniors. The team’s dependent on us understanding the
situation that we’re in, 1-5 with six games left. We want to take it one week at a
time and we just have to play better, we have to perform better on Saturday’s.”
White continued, “Obviously, our standards are high, they’ve always been high, and
our players know that [this past] Saturday was not the type of effort that we want
to put out, and try our best not to do it again.”
Old Dominion’s passing offense – which ranks 19th in the country with a 303-yard per
game average – will be a challenge in particular for the Hilltoppers.
Over the past four games, junior quarterback Blake LaRussa has passed for 1,431
yards (358 per game) and 10 touchdowns – compared to four interceptions – while
leading the Monarchs to 34 points per game. His main weapon on the outside, senior
Jonathan Duhart, ranks fourth in the nation with 737 receiving yards this season.
“We had to get to the film quick and fix everything from last week,” junior
nickelback Ta’Corian Darden said. “We’re coming into this week with a new mindset
and we have a new goal this game to be more physical and get ready to play.”
The contest will mark the 1,000th game in program history, coincidentally – yet
appropriately – coming in the 100th season of WKU Football. Four of those games have
been against the Monarchs, all being wins, over the past four years since the
Hilltoppers joined C-USA.
“They’re always going to be a tough opponent, you look back at our past games …
they’re always well-coached,” junior linebacker Ben Holt said. “[They have] good
running backs, good O-line and big wide receivers, so it’s going to be a fun game.”