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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Famous Toastery Bowl: Western Kentucky 38, Old Dominion 35

College Football

By STEVE REED
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Redshirt freshman Caden Veltkamp came off the bench to throw for 383 yards and five touchdowns, Lucas Carneiro made a winning 29-yard field goal in overtime and Western Kentucky erased a 28-point deficit to beat Old Dominion 38-35 at the Famous Toastery Bowl.

Veltkamp, the Hilltoppers third-string quarterback who had thrown just six passes in his college career, threw a 15-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 19 seconds left in regulation to push the game into an extra period.

The Hilltoppers blocked a short field-goal attempt in overtime — their second blocked kick of the game — before Carneiro drilled his.

Western Kentucky’s Dalvin Smith had nine receptions for 77 yards and three touchdown catches, two of which he speared with one hand.

The Hilltoppers (8-5) played without starting quarterback Austin Reed, who opted out of the game to prepare for the NFL draft. Veltkamp took over for Turner Helton midway through the first quarter with their team trailing 21-0.

The Hilltoppers would eventually go down 28-0 in the second quarter.

Grant Wilson ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another for Old Dominion (6-7). Kris Caine returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown and Kadarius Calloway added a rushing touchdown for the Monarchs.

Wilson got the Monarchs off on the right foot when he raced through a huge hole in the line for a 79-yard scamper — the longest run by a quarterback in ODU history — to set up a 1-yard touchdown pass to Isiah Page.

Two quick Helton mistakes led to two more ODU touchdowns.

The Hilltoppers would mount a comeback with Smith snaring a pass out of the air with one hand on a crossing route and taking it 17 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 28-14 with 10:24 left in the third quarter.

After Wilson scored a 21-yard scramble to make it 21-point game, Veltkamp responded with two more touchdown passes — a 37-yard strike to Elijah Young and his third scoring toss to Smith — to cut the lead to 35-28.

Old Dominion tried to make it a two-possession game, but Ethan Sanchez’s 47-yard field goal was blocked, giving the Hilltoppers one last chance with 2:53 left.

Western Kentucky quickly reached the Monarchs 5 behind a 30-yard reception by Jimmy Holiday and a penalty on ODU. Wayne Matthews sacked Veltkamp on third down, but Veltkamp responded with a 15-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal to KD Hutchinson with 19 seconds left to tie the game at 35 and send it to overtime.

This was the first year for the bowl in Charlotte. It is normally the Bahamas Bowl, but was moved to the mainland because stadium renovations in Nassau were not complete.

THE TAKEAWAY

Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers were in a tough position playing without Austin Reed, who started every game this season at quarterback. Helton clearly wasn’t ready for the spotlight but Veltkamp was terrific and showed great poise in the pocket. Now the big question will be if he returns next season.

Old Dominion: It’s a devastating loss for the Monarchs, who finished the season strong with three wins, including beating both Georgia Southern and Georgia State on the final play to become bowl eligible. It was only ODU’s third bowl game, but the future is looking bright in the underrated Sun Belt Conference with Wilson under center.

December 18. 2023






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