Sophomore quarterback Breylin Smith threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns in leading Central Arkansas to a stunning 35-28 nonconference victory over Western Kentucky on Thursday night at L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky.
Carlos Blackman's 1-yard scoring run with 6:51 remaining gave the Bears (1-0) their first lead of the contest. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Blackman tossed an 80-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Lujuan Winningham, who caught 8 passes for 222 yards and 3 TDs.
Western Kentucky, which led 14-0 nine minutes into the game and 28-14 entering the fourth quarter, saw its final possession end at the UCA 33 when the Hilltoppers (0-1) turned the ball over on downs with 46 seconds remaining.
The Hilltoppers scored on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead with 6:16 left in the first quarter.
Junior Gaej Walker, who led all players with 152 yards on 19 carries, scored on a 68-yard run on the Hilltoppers' first offensive play.
Six minutes later, Western Kentucky quarterback Steven Duncan capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive with a 5-yard TD pass to Joshua Simon for the Hilltoppers' second score.
Smith led the Bears back, completing 20 of 28 passes, including touchdowns of 23 and 20 yards to Winningham and 4 yards to Tyler Hudson.
Smith's scoring pass to Hudson came with 26 seconds remaining in the first half and cut Western Kentucky's lead to 21-14.
Walker scored his second touchdown -- a 10-yard run -- with 8:54 left in the third quarter to increase Western Kentucky's lead to 28-14 but the remainder of the contest belonged to the Bears.
UCA's comeback started five seconds into the fourth quarter when Winningham's 20-yard TD reception capped a 7-play, 64-yard drive to draw the Bears to within 28-21.
One play after Western Kentucky's Cory Munson missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt, Blackman completed his 80-yard scoring pass to Winningham with 9:59 to play.
Duncan, who completed 26 of 39 passes for 304 yards, threw 3 consecutive incompletions on Western Kentucky's ensuing drive. After a punt, UCA took over at its own 26.
On back-to-back plays, Smith hit Kierre Crossley for a 38-yard completion and Winningham for a 35-yard connection to the Western Kentucky 1. On third-and-goal, Blackman scored from the 1.
Central Arkansas was limited to 20 yards on the ground on 29 carries, but the Bears finished with 404 through the air.
Blackman led the Bears in rushing with 42 yards on 17 carries. He also caught three passes for 61 yards.
Sports on 08/30/2019
Print Headline: Bears claw back, finish comeback