WKU nabs third straight win in blowout

WKU quarterback Mike White (14) spots an open teammate for a pass at the WKU Homecoming football game on Saturday at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Sam Porter

On Saturday, redshirt senior quarterback Mike White looked similar to the quarterback the nation saw last year. Entering Saturday’s matchup, the pre-season C-USA Offensive Player of the Year had thrown just two touchdowns to three interceptions in 2017. Against Charlotte, White engineered six straight scoring drives to start the game as the WKU offense scored a season-high 38 points in the first half alone.

White threw five touchdowns in the game, more than doubling his season total, as well as adding his fifth rushing touchdown of the season in a 45-14 rout of Charlotte.

“We wanted to play our best football of the year in front of the people that support us. It was a great crowd, great weekend and most importantly for us within the football program we really bonded as a family and played our best football to this point,” head coach Mike Sanford said. “With that being said, we still didn’t play a perfect game. We have to play better, especially to get the result we want to get on the road like we’ll be challenged to do this Friday.”

Several players, such as redshirt senior tight end Deon Yelder and redshirt senior receiver Kylen Towner, had career highs in receiving yards. Graduate transfer Cameron Echols-Luper caught five passes for 50 yards, which were both the most since he arrived at WKU, and JUCO transfer tight end Mik’Quan Deane caught his first career touchdown as a Hilltopper. White, along with quarterbacks Drew Eckels and Steven Duncan, completed a pass to 15 different players.

“That’s the coolest stat I’ve ever been a part of,” White said about completing a pass to 15 different players. “Whenever you can go out there and get all your guys involved and get everyone the ball, who knows, one of those are bound to break and it happened. We had five different guys score which is awesome.”

One reason White and company were able to manage the offense successfully was due to the performance of the offensive line. For the first time all season, the offensive line didn’t give up a single sack after giving up at least two in the first five games.

Also, redshirt junior running back D’Andre Ferby and sophomore running back Quinton Baker were expected to be one of the more lethal backfields in Conference-USA this season. However, the combination of power and speed struggled up until Saturday’s matchup. The two combined for 109 on 19 carries against Charlotte, averaging nearly six yards per carry, well above their combined average which was less than four yards a carry entering the game.

“We worked hard all week. We knew we had to pick our level of play up,” redshirt junior offensive lineman Dennis Edwards said. “We’ve gotten better and better each week. This was the week it looked good because we put up a lot of points. We’ve definitely gotten better each week, and we plan on continuing to get better each week.”

Once again, the WKU defense performed at a high level. Despite senior cornerback Joe Brown sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Hilltopper secondary gave up a season-low 61 passing yards. The Hilltoppers did give up a season-high 248 yards on the ground, but 166 of those yards came on two plays alone. The WKU defense is now giving up just 18.2 points per game, which ranks second in C-USA behind Marshall (15.0 PPG).

The Hilltoppers are back in action Friday night on the road against Old Dominion (2-4, 0-2 C-USA). WKU defeated the Monarchs 59-24 in Bowling Green last season.

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-799-8247 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.