WKU ousts Army, 52-24, behind Allen’s historic performance

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

Army entered Saturday’s matchup as the nation’s fifth-best rushing team, but junior running back Leon Allen gave the Black Knights a taste of their own medicine with 345 yards on the ground in WKU’s 52-24 win.

Allen’s total is a new program and Conference USA single-game record, breaking current Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte’s record of 343 set in 2007. Allen out-rushed the Black Knights by himself to bring the Hilltoppers (5-5, 3-4 C-USA) back to .500 on the season.

The junior totaled his 345 yards on 33 carries for an average of 10.5 yards per carry for three touchdowns. He added two catches for 12 yards.

Redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty completed 16 of his 25 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns to go along with his 15-yard touchdown run.

“Today was a great win for us,” Head Coach Jeff Brohm said. “We’re very excited. We worked extremely this week. Really emphasized playing hard – even more so than we have. …I definitely think we got better today.

Army won the toss and deferred to begin, and after a Hilltopper three-and-out, the Black Knights used three third-down conversions to orchestrate a 12-play, 64-yard drive to open up scoring at 7-0.

The Hilltoppers responded with a 7-play, 68-yard drive led by Doughty, who went four-for-four for 45 yards. Allen capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown on a sweep up the right side.

A bad punt snap from Army gave WKU generous field position on the ensuing drive at the 19. Three plays later, Doughty took it himself for a 15-yard touchdown run to extend the Hilltopper lead to 14-7. The run marked the longest of Doughty’s career.

Following a 43-yard field goal from Army’s Daniel Grochowski, WKU junior kicker Garrett Schwettman became WKU’s 8th all-time leading scorer, passing former running back Bobby Rainey, with a 37-yard field goal that gave WKU a 17-10 lead.

With three seconds left in the half, the Hilltoppers took a shot to the end zone that was deflected by an Army defender into the hands of McNeal for a 45-yard touchdown reception, giving WKU a 24-10 lead at the break.

After allowing three successful third-down conversions on the opening Army drive, the Hilltoppers held the Black Knights to one-of-five on third down through the rest of the first half.

The Hilltoppers maintained their first-half momentum with an 80-yard touchdown from Allen on the first play of the second half, giving WKU a total of 125 yards in two consecutive plays dating back to the first-half desperation pass.

After a 54-yard touchdown run from Santiago, Allen continued his second-half dominance with a 48-yard rush that set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Doughy to Dangerfield.

Following another 50+ yard touchdown run from the Black Knights, Allen broke the program’s single-game rushing record of 309 with a one-yard touchdown run to extend the Hilltoppers’ lead to 45-24.

“It still hasn’t soaked in yet,” Allen said. “I don’t know how to explain the feeling. I’m just glad that I’m a part of it. I just want to thank my O-line and my receivers. They work hard on blocking down the field.”

Allen rushed for 25 yards on the following possession to set up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Doughty to sophomore wide receiver Nicholas Norris.

History was made on the Hilltoppers’ final drive as Allen broke Matt Forte’s C-USA single-game rushing record. In addition to the strong running attack, the Hilltopper defense pitched a third-straight home fourth-quarter shutout.

“You can definitely see the confidence oozing out of them,” Brohm said about the defense. “…They’re seeing things better. They’re reacting better, their eyes are into the backfield. They’re reading things better.”

The Hilltoppers are back in action as they look to become bowl eligible next Saturday at 11 a.m. against UTSA.