Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe entered the Boca Raton Bowl needing just 289 passing yards and five touchdown passes to break two respective single-season FBS records, held by Texas Tech's B.J. Symons (5,833 yards) and LSU's Joe Burrow (60 touchdowns). Well, it took Zappe less than a half of football against Appalachian State's defense to take down one of the records, and by the end of the afternoon, he had broken the other after a massive send-off performance in which he threw for 422 yards and six touchdowns.
In the closing moments of the first half, Western Kentucky's Jerreth Sterns caught a 43-yard pass from Zappe, which allowed him to pass Symons' single-season record and then three plays later, Zappe connected with Sterns on a 10-yard touchdown reception, which gave Zappe his fourth passing touchdown of the game, tying Burrow's mark from two seasons ago.
Western Kentucky entered halftime with a 31-24 lead, thanks to Zappe completing 24-of-31 attempts for 311 yards and four touchdowns. On the Hilltoppers' second possession of the second half, Zappe broke Burrow's single-season passing touchdown record with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Tinsley, his 61st of the season.
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Western Kentucky won the Boca Raton Bowl 59-38 over Appalachian State.
Zappe entered the bowl with 5,545 passing yards this season, which was almost 1,100 more than Virginia's Brennan Armstrong and Mississippi State's Will Rogers, who each entered the postseason with 4,449 yards. Zappe, in his fifth season of college, transferred to Western Kentucky from Houston Baptist, where he threw for more than 8,000 yards and 73 touchdowns in three seasons as a starter.
Zappe finished the season with a record 5,967 passing yards and 62 passing touchdowns as he rewrote parts of the FBS record book.
This season, the Hilltoppers went 8-4 in the regular season, including a 7-1 mark in C-USA play that allowed them to play UTSA for the conference championship, which the Roadrunners won 49-41. The Hilltoppers finished the season 9-5.