WKU cruises 31-10 over ULM behind Doughty’s record night

Quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) passes through traffic during the first half of the WKU vs. University of Louisiana Monroe game Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, at Malone Stadium in Monroe, La.

Elliott Pratt

MONROE, La. — WKU was able to share the offensive wealth Thursday night in the Bayou as the Toppers used 530 yards of offense to cruise to a 31-10 victory over Louisiana-Monroe (2-4, 0-1 SBC).

WKU (4-2, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) has 12 days off until the school hosts Louisiana-Lafayette Oct. 15. 

Junior quarterback Brandon Doughty had a career night, completing 24-of-36 passes for a career high 370 yards and two touchdowns.

Doughty also surpassed former quarterback Kawaun Jakes’ performance against ULM last year (308 yards) to hold the most passing yards in a single game during WKU’s four years in the FBS.

Antonio Andrews continues to prove to be one of the nation’s premier running back with 155 rushing yards and 202 all-purpose yards. 

“Our guys had a lot of poise and I think it really showed up in the third and the fourth quarter. We were in to it, the defense settled down and got them stopped in the second half,” Petrino said. “Offensively, we put some really good drives together, our young receivers stepped up and made some plays for us. It was good to see.”

Spreading the ball around and getting the big play is what the Toppers have been looking to establish in past weeks, and they were able to do that Thursday night. Doughty completed passes to 11 different receivers, with junior wide receiver Joel German leading the group with five grabs for 55 yards and junior tight end Mitchell Henry following with four catches for 65 yards. 

Doughty said it was good to see a lot of the younger receivers step up and add confidence to the offense and that the team the guys “meshed” in the game.

“Every game you can see our chemistry as an offense, even in the second half, just get stronger and stronger,” Doughty said. 

As it has been with every game this year, the Toppers opened on offense and went to work through the air on the game’s opening drive. Doughty found a wide open junior wide receiver Willie McNeal for a 33-yard touchdown grab to open with a 7-0 lead. 

WKU once again moved the ball in the passing game with ease as Doughty remained perfect through two drives after completing a 17-yard touchdown toss to sophomore running back Leon Allen to put WKU up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

ULM quarterback Brayle Brown, who takes over the starting quarterback job after four-year starter Kolton Browning suffered a season ending torn quad injury, found wide receiver Kenzee Jackson on a short gain, but Jackson made more out of it, spinning away from WKU defenders for a 69 yard completion later in the quarter. Running back Jyruss Edwards punched the ball in from one-yard out to cut the lead to 14-7.

Brown finished the night having completed 21-of-40 passes for 275 yards and an interception from junior cornerback Cam Thomas. 

Leading 14-10, Doughty led the offense down to the goal line with a 26-yard pass to Henry, who was knocked out of bounds with eight seconds to go in the half. The Toppers opted out of a would-be chip-shot field goal to go for the touchdown in the final seconds of the half, but Andrews was denied at the goal line heading into halftime.

The tune of the season for WKU has been the second half adjustments, but the Toppers did not play to the normal tune. 

WKU doubled its first half offensive performance with 273 yards in the second half against ULM’s 139. 

“Defensively we did some different things and did a much better job playing fast on defense,” Petrino said. “We got after the quarterback a little bit. Offensively, we just kept doing the same things we were doing, and we felt like we were executing in the first half, we just dropped a couple of balls that could have been touchdowns and gave up a couple of plays”

Keeping the Warhawks defense on their toes is what led to WKU’s dominance in the second half. Andrews and Leon Allen each rushed for a touchdown and sophomore kicker Garrett Schwettman sailed a 22-yard field goal through the uprights outscore ULM 17-0 in the second half. The Toppers’ healthy mix of run and pass propelled them to their first conference win under coach Petrino.

WKU has a while before its next game, so Petrino said this provides for a well-deserved break for his team.

“We’re going to give them a couple of days off,” Petrino said. “We’ll bring them back in on Sunday and lift some weights and run and get the schedule all set for the Tuesday game. We deserve a break. (athletics director) Todd Stewart told me this is our sixth game in 34 days, so it’s time to get a little rest, get rejuvenated, come back, work hard and get our game plan and get going.”