Football Notebook: WKU caps season with record win at No. 19 Marshall

WKU’s Willie McNeal (10) drops a pass during Friday’s game against Marshall in Huntington, West Virginia. McNeal would redeem himself in overtime, as he brought in the game-winning catch on a two-point conversion to oust No. 12 Marshall, 67-66. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Brandon Doughty will have one more game to inflate the numbers for his already record-breaking season with WKU’s bowl game in the coming weeks.

The senior reset his own Conference USA and WKU record with eight touchdown passes in Saturday’s 67-66 overtime win at No. 19 Marshall, finishing the day completing 34-of-50 passes for 491 yards and eight TDs.

The redshirt senior finished the regular season as the first WKU quarterback to surpass the 4,000-yard mark with 4,344. His 44 TD passes on the season currently lead all of college football and ties for 16th most in single-season FBS history.

In the first quarter alone versus the Thundering Herd, Doughty completed 12-of-15 passes for 215 yards and 4 TDs.

“He’s a great quarterback,” redshirt junior tight end Tyler Higbee said. “Our offensive line is awesome, too. They give him protection and Doughty sits back there and does what he does. He’s awesome. He’s a machine.”

Doughty completed passes to nine different receivers. Higbee led in scoring with three touchdown receptions for 99 yards on six catches. Jared Dangerfield caught two scores for 117 yards while Taywan Taylor added 122 yards on four receptions and a score.

Thundering Significance

Less than a month ago, the Hilltoppers found themselves with a 3-5 record following a 59-10 loss at Louisiana Tech. Head Coach Jeff Brohm challenged the team to approach its remaining four regular-season games with a playoff mentality.

It’s safe to say the Hilltoppers responded in the form of four-straight wins, including a 67-66 overtime victory at No. 19 Marshall on Friday — marking the team’s first victory over a ranked FBS team.

The game marked the highest combined final total in Conference USA single-game history and the 15 combined touchdowns thrown by Doughty and Marshall senior quarterback Rakeem Cato marks a single-game FBS record.

Last but not least, the Hilltoppers likely solidified a bowl bid with its victory over the ranked Thunder Herd.

“It was good for our team to go through a little adversity and come out on top,” Doughty said. “I’m really excited about what the future holds.”

Containing Cato

Once again, the Hilltoppers put forth a record-breaking offensive performance en route to a victory in WKU’s overtime win over Marshall, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the defense.

The Hilltopper defensive unit notched four turnovers — all of which were interceptions — and scored a season-high 28 points off turnovers.

Redshirt sophomore safety Branden Leston totaled three interceptions in the game one week after he recorded his first-career pick. Redshirt senior defensive back Ricardo Singh also picked Cato off, tying Cato’s career-high for interceptions in a game.

Cato completed 29-of-46 passes for 417 yards and seven touchdowns. 

“Our guys executed,” Brohm said. “You need players to execute and they did — even made some plays on their own. The defense played good at times, but that’s a good offense. That’s a good football team. They’re No. 1 in the conference for a reason.”