The Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers’ football team closed out their 2020 season with a 39-21 loss to the Georgia State Panthers in the 22nd annual Lending Tree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. It’s the Hilltoppers second straight loss to the Panthers in a bowl game, Rhet list to the Panthers 27-17 in the 2017 Cure Bowl.
WKU ends their season with an overall record of 5-7. They are now 8-5 overall in bowl games and 4-3 since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2009. Georgia State finished their season overall with a record of 7-4.
“Hats off to Georgia State,” Hilltoppers’ head coach Tyson Helton said in a release. “That’s a good football team. They just flat out outplayed us tonight. I thought there were a couple things earlier in the game where we were doing a good job, but penalties cost us in critical times. They did all the right things. They beat us, hands down, they had a good night. With that, we’ll go back to the drawing board.”
In the 1st Half, the Hilltoppers took their opening drive 80 yards in 14 plays with graduate student Tyrell Pigrome’s 2-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Georgia State took over the half and the game from there by scoring 27 unanswered points. Junior Destin Coates, who ran for 89 yards in the half, scored the game tying touchdown with an 11-yard run that tied the game at 7-7.
In the 2nd Quarter, redshirt freshman Cornelius Brown IV picked apart WKU’s defense for 181 yards passing for three touchdowns to: junior Cornelius McCoy, redshirt sophomore Sam Pinckney and redshirt freshman Jamari Thrash for a 27-7 halftime lead.
The Hilltoppers got a pair of 2-yard rushing touchdowns in the 3rd Quarter from redshirt senior Gaej Walker and from redshirt junior C.J. Jones in the 4th Quarter. But a couple of field goals from Noah Ruiz for the Panthers and a fourth Panthers’ touchdown pass from freshman Mikele Colasurdo to sophomore Cadarrius Thompson provided too much of a deficit for WKU to overcome as they lost 39-21 in the Lending Tree Bowl.
The Hilltoppers were outgained by the Panthers in total yards of offense 464 — 284. Tyrrell Pigrome completed 17 of his 33 passes for 180 yards with two interceptions, his first two thrown this season. He also had a rushing touchdown along with C.J. Jones, who had five carries for 57 yards, and Gaej Walker, who had eight carries for 31 yards.
Georgia State averaged 197 rushing yards per game and gained 227 yards with Destin Coates having 23 carries for 117 yards with a touchdown. Cornelius Brown IV completed 16 of his 30 passes for 232 yards for three touchdowns with an interception with Cornelius McCoy having five receptions for 88 yards for a touchdown.