NORFOLK (WAVY) – Anthony Wales rushed for a 185 yards and four touchdowns to lead Western Kentucky’s potent offensive attack in a 55-30 win over Old Dominion on Saturday afternoon. The Hilltoppers (7-2, 5-0) took a 17-3 lead after Wales covered 44 yards for his second touchdown run of the day, and the Monarchs (3-5, 1-3) could never get closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“They’re the best team we’ve played so far,” said ODU head coach Bobby Wilder, who is disappointed about the loss despite the caliber of opponent his team faced. “They’re better than North Carolina State, Marshall and Appalachian State, and those are three good football teams.
“We battled, we competed, we kept getting it to a two-score game late and then it got away from us in the fourth quarter. I’m proud of the way our guys competed, but I’m disappointed we lost the game.”
Ray Lawry rushed for 136 yards on 26 carries, while Zach Pascal caught seven passes for 100 yards. Johnathan Duhart caught five passes for 46 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which cut the Hilltoppers’ lead to 17-10 in the second quarter.
The turning point for ODU may have come late in the second quarter. Down 24-10 and facing a fourth-and-11 from the Hilltoppers’ 45 yard line, Shuler Bentley delivered what seemed to be well-thrown ball to a wide open sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Harper (Grassfield High School, Chesapeake). Harper, however, had the ball go off his hands, the Monarchs turned the ball over on downs, and Western Kentucky made it a 31-10 ball game just before halftime.
ODU was still able to produce points in the second half, but never got to within striking distance of the lead. “Defensive-wise, we gave up too many big plays and didn’t make enough tackles. That’s the bottom line of it,” said senior linebacker Martez Simpson.
Bentley seemed to have maybe the best game of his young career. The redshirt-freshman completed 19 of 34 passes for 195 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for another score. “I really don’t care about numbers I care about wins and loss and unfortunately today we took a loss,” said Bentley.
The task is considerably tougher for ODU to become bowl eligible, as they now have to win three of their remaining four games. They’ll head to Texas- San Antonio next weekend and then return home to face Texas- El Paso Nov. 14.