Breaking down the drive that saved WKU’s season

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers running back Antonio Andrews (5) runs around the outside during the first half of Saturday’s game against Arkansas State. Western Kentucky lead 20-14 at the half.

Elliott Pratt

It was 31-27 with 5:30 left to play in the game — 5:30 away from another potential home loss, and 5:30 away from an unforgettable senior class seeing their season end  with yet another 7-5 record.

The Toppers were 99 yards from a game-winning score — luckily for them, they only needed 5:20 to do it.

– First-and-10 at the WKU 1-yard line – Junior quarterback Brandon Doughty, backed into his own end zone, ran play-action pass and scrambled to his left to escape pressure. A sack would have ensured a Topper loss — instead, Doughty escaped for three yards.

– Second-and-seven at the WKU 16-yard line – A holding penalty called back a run from senior running back Antonio Andrews. Doughty then completed a pass to sophomore tight end Tim Gorski for eight yards, resulting in a first down.

– Fourth-and-nine at the WKU 32-yard line –  With 2:52 to go, WKU called a timeout. Doughty escaped trouble again and fired a pass to his right towards the WKU sideline, where senior wide receiver Jamarielle Brown was waiting 11 yards in front of him. Brown stretched as far as his six-foot-one frame would allow — one foot is all he needed, and one foot is all he got. The play went under review and the ruling stood. WKU was still alive.

– First-and-ten at the WKU 43-yard line – Coach Bobby Petrino wanted to find a way to feed his stud, Antonio Andrews. He found a way, plus some. Andrews slipped out to his right to receive the screen pass from Doughty. Andrews wove in and out of defenders and was brought down 39-yards later. WKU could smell the end zone now.

– First-and-ten at the ASU 18 – “I need to use Antonio, how do I get him the ball?” — that’s what Petrino thought to himself, he later said. Andrews got 10 yards on a draw play. More importantly, Andrews got the 14,417 fans in attendance on their feet as they witnessed a WKU legend and his curtain call on the next play, a  two-yard pick-up. The fans didn’t know it yet, but that would be the last time Antonio Andrews touched a football in a WKU jersey at Smith Stadium.

– Fourth-and-goal at the ASU six-yard line – Here’s the ball game. Doughty finds freshman wide receiver Nicholas Norris in the end zone, fireworks blast, WKU has won barring any penalties — but there’s a penalty.  An illegal block below the waist by freshman offensive lineman Forrest Lamp backed WKU up to the ASU 21-yard line. The scent started to fade away with 44 seconds to play.

– Fourth-and-goal at the ASU 21-yard line – Doughty couldn’t connect with his tight end Mitchell Henry, but ASU’s Darrius Rosser connected with Doughty. Rosser was flagged for roughing the passer, resulting in an automatic first down to the ASU 11-yard line.

– Second-and-ten at the ASU 11-yard line – Déjà vu? Doughty once again couldn’t connect with Henry, except this time, Chris Humes connected with Henry. Humes was flagged for pass interference — half the distance to the goal…automatic first down. WKU could smell it again.

– First-and-goal at the ASU 2-yard line – Petrino called a pass. It appeared Doughty connects with senior fullback Nick Baisch to his right, but it wass incomplete. Many are calling for Andrews, but Petrino had other plans.

– Second-and-goal at the ASU 2-yard line – Doughty lined up in shotgun with Andrews to his right. One receiver was to his left, two were to his right. The ball was snapped, Doughty and the offense rolled to the right, junior wide receiver Willie McNeal ran in and shook off a defender and bounced back to his right. The only thing between he and the pass from Doughty was air. The pass was complete — touchdown WKU.

Just 5:20 and 99-yards later, the Toppers secured 8-4, and finished off the best season of WKU’s FBS history.