Hilltoppers fall to Indiana, move to 2-1

Western Kentucky running back D’Andre Ferby (32) is tackled before the end zone during a NCAA game at Memorial Field, in Bloomington, Ind., Sept. 19. Michael Noble Jr./HERALD

Billy Rutledge

The Hilltoppers entered Saturday’s game at Indiana with high hopes. Riding off their first conference victory of the season, the Hilltoppers were ready to beat their first Big Ten opponent in program history.

But the Hoosiers had other plans.

Instead, the Hilltoppers were bested in a 38-35 shootout which featured career performances from both quarterbacks and poor play by both defensive units. WKU (2-1) drops to 0-3 against Indiana all-time and their chances of an undefeated season have come and gone.

The first half went in favor of the Hilltoppers. The WKU offense got off to a hot start as redshirt freshman running back D’Andre Ferby scored two rushing touchdowns in the first two quarters. Senior quarterback Brandon Doughty threw for 352 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the half to senior tight end Tyler Higbee and junior Taywan Taylor.

During the second quarter, Doughty became WKU’s all-time leader in passing yards passing Jeff Cesarone’s 8,566 yard mark. The senior went on to throw for 484 yards and three touchdowns despite not leading his team to victory. IU’s quarterback Nate Sudfield did some good work as well, finishing with 355 yards and three touchdown passes.

WKU jumped out to a 28-17 halftime lead, but it was the poor play of the defense in the second half that led to the Hilltoppers demise.

WKU was out-scored 21-7 in the second half which included 639 of total yards against the Hilltopper defense. Doughty threw two interceptions that both led to Hoosiers points in the third quarter while Indiana continued to dominate on the ground, out-rushing the Hilltoppers 284-84.

The Hilltoppers’ only points of the second half came with just under six minutes remaining in the game in the form of a three yard touchdown pass from Doughty to senior Jared Dangerfield. A blocked field goal attempt by WKU’s senior kicker Garrett Schwettman in the third quarter proved pivotal to the final outcome, it was his first miss of the season.

Higbee finished the game with a team-high 11 catches, 109 yards and a touchdown while Taylor hauled in a career-high 196 yards and a touchdown of his own. Hoosiers running back Jordan Howard finished the game with 203 yards on the ground.

The Hilltoppers next game will be September 26th at home against Miami (Ohio).