BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Bailey Zappe passed for 470 yards and six touchdowns as Western Kentucky rolled to a 52-17 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
The Hilltoppers (7-4, 6-1 Conference USA) lead the East Division and travel to play second-place Marshall in the regular-season finale Saturday.
Zappe had a 1-yard TD toss to Jerreth Sterns to open the scoring and connected with Mitchell Tinsley for an 8-yarder as WKU grabbed a 14-3 lead. Zappe hit Joey Beljan for a 3-yard TD before Teja Young picked him off and returned it 62 yards for a score — pulling the Owls (5-6, 3-4) within 21-10. Zappe answered with a 3-yard TD toss to freshman Malachi Corley and Brayden Narveson followed with a 26-yard field goal to give the Hilltoppers a 31-10 lead at the half.
Zappe completed 39 of 49 passes with two picks. Tinsley finished with nine catches for 164 yards, while Sterns caught 12 for 143.
WKU forced three interceptions on the defensive side, pushing the team's total to 13 in the past three games. Defensive backs Beanie Bishop and Omari Alexander each picked off their third passes of the season, while linebacker Christian Gomez recorded the first of his career.
Defensive end DeAngelo Malone recorded his 30 1/2 career sack in the third quarter to set the all-time Hilltopper program record, passing Sherrod Coates' 30 from 1999-to-2002. Freshman JaQues Evans had 2.0 sacks of his own – the first of his WKU career – both in the second half.
The Hilltoppers won their 11th straight Senior Game dating back to 2011. Meanwhile, WKU broke a four-game losing streak to FAU, improving to 4-9 all-time against the Owls.
WKU meets Marshall in Huntington for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff. With the Thundering Herd boasting a 5-2 C-USA record, the winner of the matchup will claim the league's East Division and qualify for the title game.
Undefeated UTSA clinched the West Division on Saturday with a 34-31 win vs. UAB and will host at the Alamodome on Friday, Dec. 3.
Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25