Western Kentucky with commanding 49-10 victory over Rice

WKU’s quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) hands off to running back D’Andre Ferby (32) during the Hilltopper’s 49-10 conference win over Rice University Saturday at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Billy Rutledge

Coming into the second Conference USA game of the season, Head Coach Jeff Brohm was looking for a complete effort from his WKU Football team.

That’s exactly what he got Saturday.

WKU traveled to Houston, Texas to defeat C-USA rival Rice 49-10 in the first ever meeting between the two programs.

The win keeps the Hilltoppers (4-1, 2-0) in first place in the C-USA East standings while advancing them to 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2012.

The first half was again a place for offensive success for the Hilltoppers. After allowing the Owls to score a 28-yard field goal on their first drive of the game, WKU went on to score 28 un-answered points and head into halftime with a 35-10 lead.

Senior quarterback Brandon Doughty had his way with the Rice defense. He finished the first half with 343 passing yards and four touchdowns, all to different players. Doughty is averaging 356 first-half passing yards over the last three games, he finished Saturday’s contest 28 for 38 with 409 yards and four TD’s.

Touchdown passes from Doughty included a 10-yard pass to senior Taywan Taylor, a 39-yard reception to senior Jared Dangerfield, a 45-yard flea flicker to senior Antwane Grant and finally a 30-yard connection to senior Tyler Higbee. Redshirt freshman D’Andre Ferby got in on the scoring too as he recorded a two yard touchdown rush late in the second quarter and another early in the fourth.

Along with the offense, the WKU defense recorded a solid day in the Texas heat.

The Hilltoppers forced five turnovers, four of those in the first half. Senior corners Wonderful Terry and Prince Charles Iworah both found interceptions while seniors linebacker Nick Newton and defensive tackle Jontavious Morris each recovered a fumble. Redshirt sophomore Tanner Reeves recorded a strip sack and recovered the fumble for the final turnover of the day. WKU did not turn the ball over once.

This is the second week in a row that the normally struggling WKU defense came to play. After allowing only 14 points last week against Miami (Ohio), the Hilltoppers held the Owls to zero points in the second half and only 322 total yards on offense.

In the second half, the Hilltoppers did an excellent job of controlling the clock and limiting mistakes. 

WKU leaned on its running game to help take time off the clock and seal the victory. Ferby finished with 58 yards and two touchdowns, redshirt junior Anthony (Ace) Wales got his first action of the season, returning from a hamstring injury. He ended with nine yards while redshirt junior Darmontre Warr scored a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, his first TD of his WKU career.

Since 2009, the Hilltoppers are now 6-2 against Texas-based schools and have won six straight. Their next game will be against another C-USA opponent, Middle Tennessee at home on October 10.