Tops make statement in season-opening rout of BGSU

Redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty calls a play during the first half of WKU’s game against Bowling Green State Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. Mike Clark/HERALD

Kyle Williams

Friday’s convincing 59-31 victory over Bowling Green State means more than just a win for the Hilltoppers.

With a performance that yielded a total of six broken offensive records, WKU and first-year Head Coach Jeff Brohm made it known that the Hilltoppers are a force to be reckoned with this season.

WKU chalked up a record 59 points, 708 yards of total offense, 40 first downs and redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty set program marks with six touchdowns, 569 passing yards and 46 completions. 

In just one game, Brohm and company shattered records that stood in the Hilltopper record books for a combined 180 years.

“It was one of those games,” Brohm said. “Everything seemed like it went right. We got into a groove and (Doughty) played tremendous and our receivers made tremendous plays with the ball. You couldn’t have written the script any better. It’s a great first start.”

The Hilltoppers’ 40 first downs and all three of Doughty’s passing accomplishments rank No. 1 in the country after week one and WKU’s yardage and total points rank No. 3 and No. 6, respectively.

WKU’s third-down completion percentage is also good for a No. 2 national ranking.

In addition, Doughty cemented himself among the most storied Conference USA quarterbacks of all time in just his first game in the league. The 6-foot-3-inch gunslinger’s six touchdowns are tied for a league record, his 569 passing yards rank No. 3 all-time and his 46 completions rank No. 4.

Only six quarterbacks on the FBS level have thrown for more than 569 yards since 2004.

“I really didn’t know anything about it until probably the fourth quarter,” Doughty said. “They were trying to tell me, and I just didn’t even want to know. I just wanted to stay locked in and, you know, I didn’t want to get too high on it.”

Doughty’s primary target on Friday was sophomore receiver Taywan Taylor, who took the opportunity and ran with it. Taylor racked up 12 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown. His 185 receiving yards rank No. 3 nationally and are the highest among Hilltopper receivers since Joey Stockton’s 194 against Murray State in 1997.

“It shows how far we’ve come as an offense,” Taylor said. “It shows all the hard work we put in all summer, all spring and it just all paid off tonight. We just came in with one goal and that was to win.”

Taylor and redshirt junior receiver Jared Dangerfield, a junior college transfer, became the first WKU receiving duo to haul in 10+ receptions in the same game. Dangerfield caught 10 balls for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

Six Hilltoppers – Taylor, Dangerfield, senior tight end Mitchell Henry, redshirt senior Willie McNeal, junior Antwane Grant and junior Leon Allen – posted a minimum of 50 yards receiving. Allen added 93 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The national recognition isn’t limited to the offense, either. Redshirt freshman defensive end Tanner Reeves’ two sacks ranks fourth most in the country. Redshirt junior Nick Holt and redshirt senior Cam Thomas each recorded six solo tackles, which ranks 75th. Holt tallied a total of 7.5 tackles.

“Each person contributed,” Brohm said. “We went into the game knowing that, not only are we going to play for the man upstairs, play for our family, play for ourselves, play for our friends – but we’re going to play for our teammates. They definitely did that tonight.”

The Hilltoppers’ trouncing of BGSU marked the fifth straight victory for WKU dating back to last season, which is tied for sixth longest among FBS programs. The top five is as follows: Florida State (17), Michigan State (11), UT-San Antonio (6), Louisville (6), Oklahoma (5) and WKU.

WKU continues its record-setting season against Illinois at 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday in Champaign, Illinois. The Fighting Illini are currently favored by 1 1/2 points.

Doughty said after the season-opening victory that relishing the win was a must, but the memories will be vacated in preparation for the Hilltoppers’ next test.

“We had a little fun in the locker room,” Doughty said on Friday. “That’s part of it. You have to enjoy the wins and take the losses to heart. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to enjoy this tonight and then tomorrow we’re going to clear it out and work on Illinois.”