Toppers fall to Louisiana-Lafayette 37-20

Lucas Aulbach

The Toppers started strong but hit a wall against Louisiana-Lafayette Tuesday night as WKU fell to the Ragin’ Cajuns 37-20 in front of an announced crowd of 16,359.

The WKU offense controlled much of the first half. The Toppers jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first four minutes after a strong drive from junior quarterback Brandon Doughty and senior running back Antonio Andrews — Doughty was 3-for-3 through the air for 56 yards and a touchdown pass to junior tight end Mitchell Henry, while Andrews had 19 rushing yards on four carries.

After an interception by Doughty on the next drive was fumbled back to the Toppers near midfield, WKU got back on the board with a 29-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Garrett Schwettman.

Mistakes caught up with WKU in the second half, though.

With just under seven minutes to halftime, the Toppers tried to go for it on 4th-and-goal at the ULL 1-yard line. Doughty took the snap but was pressured by defenders almost immediately — he tried to throw it on the run but threw an interception to ULL defensive back Al Riles at the front of the end zone. Riles took it 100 yards the other way to cut WKU’s lead to 10-7.

Turnovers hurt the Toppers again later in the half.

Facing a 4th-and-9, Doughty found Henry open for the first down — the tight end fumbled on the catch, though, and the Warhawks took it back to the Topper 35-yard line. The drive resulted in a one-yard touchdown run from ULL running back Alonzo Harris with 1:32 to go until halftime. The Warhawks took a 13-10 lead after missing the extra point.

WKU wasn’t finished, though. Doughty connected with freshman wide receiver on two quick throws of 27 and 21 yards to move the Toppers to the red zone. Schwettman hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired to tie things up heading into halftime.

ULL owned the Topper defense on the ground in the third quarter. While the WKU offense was unable to muster a point, the Ragin’ Cajuns rushed the ball 21 times and picked up 152 yards in the single quarter.

ULL led 23-13 at the end of the third thanks to a field goal from kicker Stephen Brauchie and a one-yard sneak for a touchdown by Broadway in the waning minutes.

Doughty threw another pick-six in the final minute of the third quarter, but a late hit negated the score due to a roughing the passer penalty.

Doughty was shaken up, however, and had to leave the game. He was replaced by sophomore quarterback Nelson Fishback, who was unable to move the offense that drive and was stopped on a run on 4th-and-2.

Doughty re-entered the game for the fourth quarter, but the offense was once again stopped quickly. He connected with Henry with 9:50 to go in the game, but Henry was stripped again, and ULL recovered. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored on the next play, a 24-yard touchdown pass from Broadway to tight end Jacob Maxwell.

Fishback was back under center on the next drive and looked solid in the pocket. He completed three passes for the Toppers, leading to a two-yard rushing touchdown from Andrews to bring the score to 30-20 ULL with 7:02 to go.

That was the last offense the Toppers were able to get together on the night. ULL drove down the field on the next drive and scored on a two-yard touchdown run by running back Alonzo Harris to bring the score to 37-20 with 2:37 to go.

Doughty finished the game 17-of-23 for 257 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, while Fishback went 5-of-6 for 78 yards.

Andrews was a bright spot for the offense at times. He finished with 154 yards on 28 carries.

More coverage from this game will be posted later tonight.