HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Bailey Zappe threw four touchdown passes — all in the second half — and Western Kentucky spotted Marshall 14 points before pulling away for a 53-21 victory on Saturday, laying claim to Conference USA's East Division crown.
In a game between the top two teams in the East, the Hilltoppers (8-4, 7-1) ran off 36 unanswered points to earn the right to face 15th-ranked UTSA in the conference championship game on Dec. 3 in San Antonio.
Western Kentucky managed just two field goals by Brayden Narveson and trailed 14-6 at halftime. Zappe came out firing in the third quarter. He hooked up with Daewood Davis for a 47-yard TD just 1:19 into the third quarter. Zappe followed that with a 14-yard TD toss to Malachi Corley before firing a 50-yard scoring strike to Davis midway through the quarter. Narveson added a 53-yard field goal and WKU led 29-14 heading to the fourth. Zappe's final TD toss was an 8-yarder to Dalvin Smith 52 seconds in. Davion Williams capped the scoring for the Hilltoppers with a 45-yard pick-6 in the final minute.
Zappe completed 25 of 48 passes for 328 yards with no interceptions for WKU.
Luke Zban was 16-of-25 passing for 123 yards and a TD for the Thundering Herd (7-5, 5-3). Rasheen Ali carried 24 times for 97 yards.
Marshall quarterback Grant Wells completed his first 10 passes but left the game after getting sacked and fumbling the ball away in the second quarter. He walked to the locker room with an undisclosed injury and did not return.
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