Allen turns in 15th-best single-game rushing performance in NCAA history

Junior running back Leon Allen (33) pushes through the line on a rush during the second half of the WKU-Army game on Nov. 15. Allen rushed 33 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the Conference USA record for rushing yards in a single game. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Kyle Williams

Following Saturday’s 52-24 win over Army, junior running back Leon Allen said that he put in more preparation during a game week than he ever has leading up to the Hilltoppers’ matchup with the Black Knights.

That work paid off, and then some, in the form of 345 yards on the ground — a single-game program and Conference USA record — and three touchdowns on 33 carries for WKU (5-5, 3-4 C-USA).

The performance broke a 22-year-old single-game program rushing record of 309 set by Eddie Thompson in 1992, and a C-USA record of 342 set by current Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte in 2007.

The Bradenton, Florida native’s rushing total is the second-most in FBS this season and ranks as the 15th-best single-game rushing performance in FBS history. Only six collegiate running backs have totaled more than 345 yards in a game since 2000.

“It hasn’t even soaked in yet,” Allen said after the game. “I’m still overwhelmed by it. I don’t know how to explain the feeling. I’m just glad that I’m a part of it.”

Allen single-handedly out-rushed the country’s then No. 5-ranked rushing attack of Army, who came in averaging 298.3 rushing yards per game, 345-293;  250 of Allen’s 345 yards came in the second half and 197 came in the third quarter alone on just nine carries.

When Allen was asked if he was cognizant of the record, he said he didn’t know until he was creeping up on it.

“Until I was 10 yards short,” Allen said. “I didn’t even know. …It kind of put a little pressure on me. I was like, ‘I have to get it now.’”

The Hilltoppers totaled 383 rushing yards, surpassing their former season-high of 230 set on Oct. 25 in WKU’s 66-51 win over Old Dominion.

Allen was quick to credit his offensive line and receivers for allowing his historic performance, especially the more athletic linemen, who were able to pull off and make contact with members of the Army defense.

Head Coach Jeff Brohm said the offensive line enjoyed dishing out some hits as opposed to staying back and pass protecting.

“I thought they did a great job. They were physical up front,” Brohm said. “We had a few penalties that hurt us at times, but they kept playing hard. I know a few times we tried to isolate and get Forrest Lamp and Brandon Ray pulling for Leon —  they did a great job. They’re athletic. Leon stayed behind them, they paved the way.”

In addition to broken records, the win also provided a sense of balance for the Hilltopper offense. Brohm said the balance will bode well for WKU, who’s still in a playoff mentality with two games remaining on the regular-season schedule.

“That’s the sign of a really good offense — if you can run and pass,” Brohm said. “You always want to be balanced. To me, balance is taking what they give you, so some games you may have to run the ball more. Some games you have to pass the ball more. If we can do both effectively, I think that makes for a good offense.”

The Hilltoppers will look to secure bowl eligibility on Saturday at 11 a.m. in a bout with UTSA (3-7, 2-4 C-USA).