Bailey Zappe Sets 2 FBS Passing Records as WKU Beats App State in Boca Raton Bowl

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 18, 2021

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Jerreth Sterns #8 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers catches a 43-yard pass from Bailey Zappe #4 (not pictured) that broke the all-time single season passing yards record against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Western Kentucky scored a 59-38 victory over Appalachian State in the 2021 Boca Raton Bowl on Saturday at FAU Stadium in Florida.

A shootout was expected between the Hilltoppers and Mountaineers, who combined to average 77.6 points per game during the regular season, and the offenses delivered in a game that featured 1,246 total yards and 13 touchdowns.

WKU quarterback Bailey Zappe stole the spotlight with 422 passing yards and six touchdowns en route to setting the new NCAA FBS single-season records in both categories. He finishes the 2021 season with 5,967 yards and 62 scores through the air.

Zappe captured the yards record in the second quarter:

WKU Football @WKUFootball

Here it is! 🐐 <a href="https://t.co/tHKmiGCkBD">pic.twitter.com/tHKmiGCkBD</a>

And the touchdown mark in the third quarter:

WKU Football @WKUFootball

.<a href="https://twitter.com/MitchTinsley15?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MitchTinsley15</a> on the receiving end: <a href="https://t.co/TXjwnBPbA5">pic.twitter.com/TXjwnBPbA5</a>

Here's a look at some of the bowl game's other standout performers:

  • Chase Brice (ASU QB): 317 passing yards, 4 TD
  • Noah Whittington (WKU RB): 150 rushing yards, 1 TD
  • Camerun Peoples (ASU RB): 101 rushing yards 
  • Jerreth Sterns (WKU WR): 184 receiving yards, 3 TD
  • Mitchell Tinsley (WKU WR): 103 receiving yards, 2 TD
  • Christian Wells (ASU WR): 86 receiving yards, 1 TD

The sides traded scores at a rapid rate until it was 24-24 late in the second quarter.

Western Kentucky seized control with a 21-0 run spanning from late in the second quarter until midway through the third. An 86-yard touchdown run by Whittington shortly after halftime really helped turn the tide in favor of the Hilltoppers.

Appalachian State couldn't keep pace as its offense sputtered in the second half.

WKU, which started the season 1-4, finished the campaign by winning eight of its last nine games to post a 9-5 record. The Hilltoppers also improved their bowl record to 5-2 since 2014.

Zappe is a name to watch as the 2022 NFL draft moves closer. What he lacks in size (6'1''), he makes up for with arm talent, specifically his throwing accuracy, and the ability to command a fast-paced passing attack. He could be a developmental middle-round pick in April.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State wrapped up its season at 10-4 following back-to-back losses in the Sun Belt Championship Game and the bowl game. It's also the team's first bowl loss since moving to the FBS level in 2014 after six straight wins.

The Mountaineers have still won at least nine games in seven consecutive years while emerging as one of the nation's premier Group of Five programs.