LA Tech hands WKU its worst conference loss in program history

Redshirt senior receiver Willie McNeal returns a kick against Louisiana Tech in WKU’s 59-10 loss to the Bulldogs on Nov. 1.

Kyle Williams

Fresh off their first Conference USA victory against Old Dominion, the Hilltoppers’ swagger was riding high heading into Saturday’s matchup at Louisiana Tech, but instead of another league win, WKU was sent home with an eye-opening punch to the gut.

LA Tech handed the Hilltoppers a 59-10 thumping, marking their worst conference loss in program history. WKU (3-5, 1-4 C-USA) totaled season lows in points (10) and yards (297) while committing a season-high five turnovers.

“When you have a loss like that it hits you right in the stomach,” Head Coach Jeff Brohm said. “It definitely hit everyone in the stomach, and we realized that it was an embarrassing loss. …As I told them, you’re going to face adversity in life. This is one of those times where you have to respond. It’s happened to other teams before, and it will continue to happen to other teams afterward — you have to man up. You’ve got to step back up to the plate and get ready to swing.”

Despite uncharacteristically lackluster offensive performances in recent weeks and an overall defense that ranks 124 out of 125 in NCAA Division I, history is on the Hilltoppers’ side.

In two of the past three seasons, WKU football has dropped at least four of its first eight contests, but has managed to finish the season with at least seven wins.

According to redshirt senior offensive lineman Cameron Clemmons, the Hilltoppers need to increase their focus and enjoy the process if they want to maintain history’s trend.

“You can’t get worried about it,” Clemmons said. “You take it one game at a time, one day at a time and focus on getting better tomorrow during practice. For me, things are winding down so I’m just taking things one day at a time and just enjoying it. My focus is on getting my team ready to go, and we will be ready to go on Saturday.”

Next on the Hilltoppers’ schedule is UTEP, who travels to WKU this weekend for the team’s Homecoming game. WKU is 50-28-3 all-time in Homecoming bouts, and although the Hilltoppers are giving up 41.3 points per game at Smith Stadium this season, they’re scoring an average of nearly 55 points in their three home games.

The Homecoming matchup should bode well for redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty, who’s 94-of-119 (79 percent) for 1,259 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions at home this season. Doughty, the nation’s No. 3 in passing yards, totaled just 134 yards and had four interceptions at LA Tech.

After the team’s worst conference loss in program history, Brohm said it’s important to instill confidence in his team in order to win, and according to redshirt junior defensive lineman Gavin Rocker, regaining confidence is vital in order to attain what’s still within the team’s grasp.

“Everybody just coming together,” Rocker said. “I understand that our defense is young. The thing is just keeping everyone’s head up. Keep the confidence high and tell them we still have things to play for.”