Tyrell Pearson's interception return with just more than two minutes left set up a 1-yard plunge by Trey Fetner that lifted South Alabama to a 31-24 win over visiting Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams Saturday night.
The Hilltoppers (1-2, 0-1) took a 21-10 lead in the first half but could only manage a field goal in the second half - that coming on a 44-yard boot to start the fourth quarter by Garrett Schwettman after the Jaguars tied the game at 21-21.
Aleem Sunanon kicked a 37-yard field goal two minutes later to tie the score at 24-24.
Ross Matheny completed 11 of 15 passes for 193 yards to lead South Alabama (2-1, 1-0).
Brandon Doughty was 27 of 47 for 282 yards and three touchdowns to lead Western Kentucky, but he was also intercepted three times.
The Western Kentucky University football team travels to Mobile, Alabama this Saturday, hoping to get back into the win column as they begin Sun Belt Conference play. They’ll be facing South Alabama for the first time.
After an impressive 35-26 win over Kentucky to start the season two weeks ago, WKU stumbled in a 52-20 loss to Tennessee. The game featured seven Hilltopper turnovers.
South Alabama is also 1-1 on the season. The Jaguars were edged by Southern Utah in their season opener, 22-21, but then topped Tulane 41-39.
It will cost less to tailgate this year at WKU football games.
The university’s athletic department has announced that several parking lots that in previous years carried a $20 parking fee, will now be free on a first-come first-serve basis.
Those areas include McLean Hall, "The Valley", Bates Runner Hall and the Service Supply Building lawn.
WKU offers 30 tailgating areas within a half-mile of Houchens Industries- L.T. Smith Stadium. Tailgate areas open at 8 a.m. on Saturday game days The Hilltoppers’ home-opener is September 21st against the Morgan State Bears.
An online article highlights clashes between WKU football coach Bobby Petrino and a medical trainer who was fired in the spring.
The Chronicle of Higher Education story about friction between coaches and athletic trainers singled out the relationship between Petrino and former WKU associate athletic trainer Danny Cobble. The Chronicle’s story says Petrino questioned Cobble’s medical abilities, grew impatient with return-to-play times for players, and pushed back against decisions made by physicians.
Cobble says he was fired in the spring after being at WKU since 2009. When asked by the Courier-Journal about the article, A WKU athletics spokesman said neither coach Petrino or WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart would comment.
The Chronicle story spotlighted an incident in which Cobble says a doctor ordered surgery for an unidentified WKU football player. Cobble says Petrino wanted to treat the player with a cortisone shot instead. The player eventually had surgery.
The Chronicle surveyed hundreds of athletic trainers and staff for their story. Of the 101 who responded, 53 said they felt pressure from football coaches to get players back on the field faster than the trainers felt was medically prudent.
You can read the full article from The Chronicle of Higher Education here.