WKU sets six program records en route to 59-31 win over BGSU

Junior wide receiver Jared Dangerfield (21) catches a touchdown during the fourth quarter of WKU’s August 29 game against Bowling Green State. Dangerfield finished the game with 10 receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns in WKU’s 59-31 victory over the Falcons. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Kyle Williams

Smoke alarms went off in Smith Stadium in the second quarter of Friday’s season-opening game against Bowling Green State, but the only thing on fire was WKU’s offense.

The Hilltoppers broke six offensive program records and tied another en route to a 59-31 victory over the defending Mid-American Conference champion Falcons.

Head Coach Jeff Brohm, in his first game as a collegiate head coach, led the Hilltoppers to a record 708 total yards and an FBS record of 59 points.

His quarterback, redshirt senior Brandon Doughty, added three broken records of his own – single-game touchdown passes (6), single-game passing yards (569) and single-game completions (46).

The WKU offense also tied a school record by running a total of 96 plays on offense. The Hilltoppers ran that many plays without committing a single turnover despite coming off a 2013 season in which they ranked fifth in the country in turnovers committed.

The team’s 40 first downs is also a single-game program mark.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Brohm said. “Great coaching job by our coaches, great job by our players. Completely executed everything we called. Played hard the entire game. Played together. Responded when the other team scored. Because Bowling Green scored, they got some things going. They got a few big drives and a couple cheap touchdowns on some screens and we responded.”

Doughty opened the game orchestrating a 10-play, 83-yard scoring drive that took just 3:20. The redshirt senior completed seven-of-seven passes before Allen punched in a two-yard touchdown. Allen finished with 28 attempts for 93 yards.

The Hilltoppers dodged a bullet on the next drive as BGSU’s Johnson found Chris Pohlman wide open, but the tight end was unable to haul in the sure touchdown reception, leading to a Falcon punt.

After a failed drive by the Hilltoppers on the next possession, BGSU drove the ball to the WKU 20-yard line, but a heads-up play from junior Nick Holt stopped the quarterback sneak to give the ball back to WKU.

Doughty hit a streaking sophomore receiver Taywan Taylor on the following possession for a 55-yard touchdown. Taylor totaled 12 catches for 185 yards and a score in the contest.

The Falcons marched down the field once again on the next drive, setting up a 27-yard field goal that clanked off the right post.

That gave the ball back to Doughty, and you can probably guess what he and the Hilltoppers did with it.

WKU used its up-tempo style to move quickly down the field, which eventually led to a 34-yard touchdown for junior Antwane Grant after he broke a tackle off a screen pass. Doughty was 16-for-20 with 241 yards and two touchdown passes at that point.

“He’s a guy that’s an accurate passer,” Brohm said. “If you can give him some plays where he can just get the ball out of his hands, he’s going to be accurate with it…if you can get him in a rhythm, get him some completions, he’s going to get in a groove.”

BGSU then responded with a seven play, 70-yard drive capped off by Fred Coppet’s one-yard run, cutting the Hilltopper lead to 21-7.

Nevertheless, the Hilltoppers continued their up-tempo onslaught with a six-play, 75-yard drive that took only 2:13. Doughty found redshirt senior Willie McNeal to cap the drive. McNeal tallied five catches for 70 yards and two scores.

“Our players love playing fast,” Brohm said. “They have the system down. We’ve been going at it ever since I took over…it definitely can be an advantage…we feel like they executed it well today.”

After 52-yard and 29-yard field goals by BGSU and WKU, respectively, the Hilltoppers headed into halftime with a 31-10 advantage.

Doughty completed 27 of his 32 first-half passes for 359 yards and three scores. The Hilltoppers ran 50 plays in the first 30 minutes and converted six of nine third down plays.

“It shows how far we’ve come as an offense,” Taylor said about the up-tempo play. “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.”

Redshirt junior Jared Dangerfield got into the mix to begin the second half, hauling in two first-down receptions before nabbing a five-yard touchdown from Doughty that capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive.

BGSU answered back with two touchdowns in a matter of just over six minutes. Andre Givens rushed in from three yards out and Ronnie Moore caught a 41-yard touchdown from Matt Johnson, making it 38-24.

The “anything you can do, I can do better” show continued with 4:23 left in the third quarter as Doughty found McNeal creeping in the back of the endzone for 20-yard scoring hookup.

WKU started its next drive on their own 24 and although Allen was stripped, he recovered and bullied his way to the BGSU seven-yard line several plays later. Doughty then tossed his record sixth touchdown of the game to Dangerfield, giving the Hilltoppers a 52-24 lead and capping an 11-play, 77-yard drive.

Dangerfield finished his first game in a Hilltopper uniform with 10 catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

The Falcons’ Travis Greene notched a touchdown run with 10:52 remaining before the Hilltoppers burned clock and ended the game with a one-yard scoring run from sophomore running back Anthony Wales, sealing the 59-31 final score.

Doughty said the Hilltoppers will enjoy this win tonight, but will turn their attention to Illinois tomorrow. WKU visits the Illini on Sept. 6 at 11:00 a.m. CDT.

“We had a little fun in the locker room,” Doughty said. “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.”