No doubting Doughty: WKU drives 99 yards to defeat Arkansas State 34-31

Junior Willie McNeal catches the winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds to go as WKU won 34-31 against Arkansas State on Nov. 30, 2013 at Houchens-Smith Stadium. 

Elliott Pratt

There was no doubting junior quarterback Brandon Doughty Saturday afternoon. Need to go 99 yards to win the game? Not a problem. Doughty threw a two-yard pass to junior wide receiver Willie McNeal to cap a 99-yard game winning drive as WKU defeated Arkansas State 34-31 on Senior Day.

The win moves WKU to 8-4 (4-3 Sun Belt Conference), its best record during the FBS era and gives the Toppers a good chance of playing one more game in the postseason for back-to-back years of a bowl appearance.

“Wow, what a great win for us. I’m just really proud of our players and how we stuck together, kept competing,” coach Bobby Petrino said after the game. “The only thing I kept thinking the whole time was I need to use Antonio (Andrews, senior running back). How can I get him the ball? We decided to throw a screen to him and he made a great play on that and gave him the ball on the draw to make another great play and got us in a position to win the game.”

Arkansas State (7-5, 5-2 SBC) drove 83 yards on its first possession to score on a 1-yard rush by defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers. WKU answered with a rushing touchdown by senior running back Keshawn Simpson and a Doughty touchdown pass to McNeal.

The Toppers scored again in the second quarter on a 23-yard pass by Doughty to freshman wide receiver Nicholas Norris to lead 20-14 at halftime.

The Red Wolves took a 31-27 lead at the 9:27 mark of the fourth quarter thanks to a halfback pass by J.D. McKissic for six yards.

Andrews rushed for 119 yards on 20 attempts and used a 39-yard reception from Doughty during the 99-yard game-winning drive that helped set up Doughty’s two-yard touchdown pass to McNeal with 10 seconds left.

Andrews surpassed his own single-season rushing record by two yards in the Toppers’ victory, finishing the regular season with 1,730 yards on the year.

“It means a lot,” Andrews said. “This is the best record we’ve had since being in the FBS and it’s just another day to play with these guys and another day with these seniors.”

Doughty set the school record for passing yard in a single season with 2,857 yards with after completing 21-of-37 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns on the night.  Doughty had back-to-back drives with touchdown passes to McNeal and Norris in the first half.

WKU won the game despite having Arkansas State gushing the defense for 223 yards on the ground. Michael Gordon led the Red Wolves with 132 yards and quarterback Fredi Knighten rushed for 50 yards on top of his two scores.

The Toppers’ postseason hopes now lie in the hands of bowl executives, and the team believes they’ve done enough to earn an extra game.

“Our players deserve it,” Petrino said. “We’ve worked extremely hard. We were .500 at one time and we talked about just keep competing and put a nice four-game win streak here together.”