Football Notebook: Costly mistakes jeopardize WKU’s Sun Belt title bid

WKU’s quarterback Nelson Fishback tries to avoid being tackled during their game against Louisiana at Western Kentucky University on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. 

Elliott Pratt

Prior to Tuesday night’s loss to Louisiana-Lafayette, WKU’s defense had posted back-to-back impressive performances against the run. The Toppers held the nation’s leading rushing offense at the time in Navy to just over 100 yards on the ground, and they only allowed five yards on the ground in the second half to Louisiana-Monroe last Thursday.

The defense looked to continue that streak Tuesday night — until ULL decided to only throw five passes during the second half of its 37-20 win over the Toppers.

WKU’s defense allowed 254 yards rushing and couldn’t get off the field to let the Topper offense put in work. WKU’s dominance in the time of possession category of 20:39 in the first half was mirrored in ULL’s favor, who held it for 20:35 in the third and fourth quarter.

“Tip your hat off to Lafayette,” coach Bobby Petrino said after the game. “They did a good job in the second half of controlling the line of scrimmage and pounding their running backs at us. We weren’t able to make plays when it was the critical time in the game.”

More Topper Turnovers

WKU can’t seem to get over the turnover plague. The Toppers’ 22 total turnovers on the year are more than any other team in the FBS. Junior quarterback Brandon Doughty continues to struggle with interceptions — two picks Tuesday night make it 12 interceptions on the season, which places him in second in the FBS for most picks on the year. One interception went right through the hands of Joel German and the other resulted in a 99-yard pick-six from ULL’s Al Riles.

Doughty finished his night early with 18 completions on 23 attempts for 260 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown to junior tight end Mitchell Henry on the game’s first drive. Sophomore quarterback Nelson Fishback took over the offense in the fourth quarter going 5-for-6 and 78 yards.

ULL linebacker Justin Anderson was in Henry’s head all night, stripping the ball twice from his hands shortly after the completion.

“They were the difference of the game,” Petrino said about turnovers. “There’s no question they were the difference in the game. You can’t win games when you throw interceptions for touchdowns and get outcompeted for balls in the air.”

Andrews reaches 1,000

Despite the Toppers’ woes, senior running back Antonio Andrews continues to prove himself as one of the most powerful runners in the country.

Andrews finished the night with 154 yards on 28 carries and a score to put him over 1,000 yards for the year. Andrews suprassed Washington’s Bishop Sankey to lead the nation with 1,036 rushing yards on the year. Andrews’ career all-purpose yard count is up to 5,790 yards.