BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WDAM) - In a football game where defense ruled the day, Western Kentucky University made the big play that made a big difference.
Quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome’s 47-yard pass to Xavier Lane set up his own 5-yard touchdown run, giving WKU a lead it would never lose in a tense, 10-7 victory over the University of Southern Mississippi Saturday afternoon at Houchen Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium
Pigrome’s scoring run capped the Hilltoppers’ opening drive of the game, and Brayden Narveson’s 24-yard field goal would finish off an 18-play, 65-yard drive on the second, as WKU made the scores on its first two possessions stand up the rest of the day.
Saturday marked the sixth consecutive game the Hilltoppers had managed to score two touchdowns or less and yet WKU (3-6, 2-3 Conference USA) managed to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Golden Eagles (2-6, 1-3) managed just 221 yards total offense, including just 129 yards through three quarters.
USM put together just two meaningful drives all day.
The first ended in a botched 42-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, while the second resulted in Kevin Perkins' 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that got the Golden Eagles within striking distance.
But USM could do little with its last two possessions of the game.
Perkins broke USM’s longest play of the game, a 31-yard run, to the WKU 39-yard line for a first down. But quarterback Trey Lowe was sacked for a 10-yard loss and USM eventually punted.
USM had one last chance, getting the ball at midfield with 1 minute, 44 seconds to play, but Lowe threw incomplete, was sacked for a loss of 3 yards and then tossed two more incompletions to turn the ball over on downs with 44 seconds to play.
The Golden Eagle defense held the Hilltoppers to 304 yards total offense, including just 100 yards in the second half. The effort included a stop of Malik Staples on fourth-and-1 at the USM 22-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Lowe was making his second consecutive start at quarterback because of injuries to starter Jack Abraham and back-up Tate Whatley.
Abraham, who is recovering from the lingering effects of COVID-19 and a concussion, will not play again this season.
Lowe completed 6-of-14 passes for 67 yards. Perkins had 71 yards on eight carries, while Frank Gore Jr. ran for 66 yards on 14 carries.
Pigrome completed 19-of-30 passes for 183 yards for WKU. Lane grabbed five passes for 90 yards.
USM will welcome the University of Texas-San Antonio to Hattiesburg for a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.