Doughty, Toppers come through on final drive vs. Army

Elliott Pratt

The story of WKU’s football season has been a tale of two halves. For most of the year the team has been strong in the first half but the final 30 minutes hasn’t been the same.

Saturday against Army, though, the Toppers flipped the script.

After a scoreless first half, WKU was on its own 13-yard line with just over four minutes left to play in the game. The Toppers were 87 yards away from becoming winning the game and 87 yards away from bowl eligibility.

“You could see it in those guys’ eyes on the field that we were going to win this game,” junior quarterback Brandon Doughty said. “We just had that feel in the huddle with how things we clicking. Coach’s play calling in that last drive was simply unbelievable and the guys were just wide open which makes it easy for you as a quarterback.”

That final drive ended with senior running back Antonio Andrews — who was recruited by Army while a senior at Fort Campbell High School — punching the ball into the end zone with 32 seconds left for the game-winning touchdown.

The Toppers’ drive reflected most of the second half for the entire team — execution and focus is what got WKU out of a first half funk that coach Bobby Petrino called “frustrating”.

“It was frustrating, there was no question about it, when you don’t feel like you’re operating the things you did in practice,” Petrino said. “That was the one thing I told them at halftime, we have to go out there and do the things we practice and execute the game plan we did in practice.

“But I did like the fact we had guys step up. I thought we had leadership show up and guys were really committed to go out in the second half and play hard and find ways to win.”

Much of the success of an offense falls on the quarterback, and Petrino said the nature of the quarterback role brings more credit and criticism than one deserves. But Doughty’s recent performances have proven him to be the quarterback Petrino wants in his offense.

The first and second half comparisons for Doughty were like night and day. He struggled through the first half, completing 5-of-11 passes, before a near-perfect second half allowed him to finish the game 16-of-24 passing for 199 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

On the final drive, Doughty was 5-of-6 passing for 73 yards, and Petrino said he couldn’t have asked for more.

“The two-minute execution was something he did very well,” Petrino said. “He was on top of it, he was focused on what coverages they were in, where the ball should go, the timing was really good. It was just one of those drives where he pretty much did everything right.”

Doughty’s ability to scramble in the past few games has added to his confidence as a quarterback — he had 26 yards on the ground against the Black Knights.

“I kind of modified my game a bit,” Doughty said. “Some things weren’t working for me and I just modified what I was going to do and said to myself if it’s not there I’m not going to force the ball and if not I’m going to take it down and run it.

“I can see that energy when we watch the highlight tape of me running and it clicked to me and I said, ‘I have to do this.’”

Doughty’s job has been in jeopardy on multiple situations, starting all but two games for the Toppers, but Petrino said he knows his quarterback has thick skin and is prepared to ride the season out with Doughty.

“He’s done a nice job for us,” Petrino said. “He’s a big reason why we have six wins.”