BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Austin Reed threw four touchdown passes in his Western Kentucky debut and the Hilltoppers defeated Austin Peay 38-27 in a season-opener on Saturday.
Reed’s first three TD throws went to Malachi Corley, a sophomore who caught 73 passes last season. Western Kentucky recovered a fumble near midfield after Corley’s third touchdown catch and Reed quickly found All-American candidate Daewood Davis deep over the middle for a 48-yard score and a 35-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
After forcing a punt on the Governors’ next possession, Western Kentucky was driving again before Reed threw his only interception of the game, a pickoff by Shamari Simmons. Austin Peay then closed the gap to 35-27 when Mike DiLiello hit Drae McCray for 24 yards and a touchdown.
The Hilltoppers regained a two-score advantage, driving 70 yards in 11 plays for a 23-yard field goal by Brayden Narveson. Austin Peay fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, the Hilltoppers recovered and ran the final three minutes off the clock.
Upton Stout‘s 34-yard pick-6 in the second quarter put Western Kentucky ahead 21-10 and the Hilltoppers went on to lead 21-17 at halftime.
Reed, who transferred from West Florida, the team he led to the 2019 Division II national championship, completed 19 of 33 passes for 276 yards. Davis caught six passes for 124 yards and Corley had five receptions for 61 yards.
Diliello finished 15 of 21 for 156 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Both touchdowns went to McCray, who had six catches for 90 yards.