Hilltoppers win second conference game behind stellar second half defense


“Coach told me to sit at the sticks, so I sat at the sticks and made the play for the pick-six”.

Wonderful Terry said this, after he made a brilliant break on the ball and took it 90 yards for the score after WKU was on its heels. The Tops welcomed in UTEP for a conference match up and a Homecoming date on the Hill. In a game set perfectly for disappointment, it sure didn’t let down the 18,000+ who showed up to experience WKU’s second ever Conference USA win. Sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride as we review the Tops 35-27 victory.

The opening coin toss was won by WKU and they would elect to receive. With UTEP kicking off towards the Bell Tower, the Tops would set up shop and look to continue their common action of scoring on the first drive of the game. Today the WKU offense would go against a defense ranked at the top of C-USA in their ability to hold teams on long third down plays.

For the Miners, Western played directly into their hands. WKU would rush on first down, and then they would throw on second down for a first down. However, the next three downs would go anywhere but forward. WKU would punt on their first drive of the game for only a handful of times this season. UTEP would get the ball and on the first play from scrimmage, Jameill Showers would throw a 50 yard bomb and would put UTEP in WKU territory and put the ever so susceptible WKU defense figurative back against the wall. However, for the Tops, they wouldn’t budge only allowing the Miners to put three points on the board.

Western wouldn’t be able to show out until a few drives later when Brandon Doughty – yes the same Brandon Doughty who threw four interceptions and for less than 150 yards the week before – found Joel German 50 yards down field to put WKU up 7-3 at the 8:58 mark of the 1st quarter. Now, that being said, it would take WKU to the 12:40 mark of the 4th quarter to regain the lead, only this time, they wouldn’t let it go.

Overall for the Hilltoppers, this game meant a lot to them. They were rolling off a terrible loss to Louisiana Tech, it was homecoming on the Hill and, whether you buy into it or not, it really does factor into how teams play. Rarely have I ever seen a game – either on Senior day or Homecoming – where a team completely show out, or fail to show up. For WKU, today turned out to be very very good.

UTEP would score three times in a row heading into the latter stages of the 2nd quarter. Autrey Golden would take the kick off following the German touchdown 92 yards for the score and put UTEP up 10-7. After a quick three and out from WKU, the Miners would drive down the field and Josh Bell would punch the rock in from one-yard out, making it  17-7. The next UTEP score would come off the foot of Jay Mattox in the form of a 29 yard field goal at the 6:42 mark of the 2nd quarter. Leon Allen would find the end zone himself from two-yards out to put the Tops within six heading into halftime with the Miners set to receive the second half kick off.

WKU, determined not to allow another special teams return, would pooch kick the ball and UTEP would set up their drive from their own 35. 11 minutes and 20 seconds later, yes ELEVEN MINUTES LATER, UTEP would punch the rock in for a score off the legs of Nathan Jeffrey and go up 27-14. Heading into the game, the Miners boasted an extremely volatile rushing attack. On the first drive of the second half, they proved that this in turn was very true. After that drive though, WKU wouldn’t let UTEP see the end zone again.

Doughty found Willie McNeal from seven yards out for the score at the 1:38 mark of the 3rd, putting WKU in striking distance at 27-21. On the following UTEP drive, all hope seemed lost for WKU. The Minors did what they wanted – until Wonderful Terry jumped the route and ran up the visiting bench 90 yards for the touchdown!

Following Garrett Schwetteman’s extra point, WKU was in control, 28-27 with 12:40 to go in the game. After the WKU defense forced a three and out, Doughty and company would drive down the field and he would find Allen again, this time 10 yards in the end zone and BAMMMM! WKU with the lead 35-27 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game!

Two three and outs from UTEP later and a WKU victory formation, WKU wins.

Overall this was a rare complete game for the Hilltoppers. They showed play making ability on both sides of the ball. They controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game in regards to UTEP’s rushing attack. Showers – minus his first bomb of the game – was virtually no where to be found in the passing game. For the offense, they were able to make plays and keep Doughty relatively clean. Brohm said Doughty knew going into the game that he would be pressured, as long as he kept his feet moving in the pocket and worked through his progressions, stepped up in the pocket, and made the throws to win the game he would be fine. Brohm said after the game

Doughty played tough and your Quarterback has to play tough if you want to win games

WKU will welcome Army to town next weekend for a their second to last home game of the season.

A few quick hits before I leave you – Leon Allen was the only Hilltopper to rush the ball tonight minus a Doughty keeper. At the half, WKU had -5 yards rushing. It didn’t seem like that few yards however. As far as passing it didn’t seem like 324 yards were thrown in their air either, but I suppose that is because WKU usually throws for five billion. Okay, that’s a little overzealous, but they usually throw for more or alas light up the score board a little more.