Aulbach: Toppers show their potential in win over Navy

WKU’s Antonio Andrews and Cameron Clemmons salute to the stands after Andrews scored a touchdown during their game against Navy at Western Kentucky University on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Lucas Aulbach

WKU played like the team it’s supposed to be Saturday against Navy.

The defense was on-point. Brandon Doughty was efficient under center. And Antonio Andrews ran like a guy who was leading the best rushing offense in the nation, not facing it.

Add those factors up and you’ve got a 19-7 victory over the Midshipmen — the most impressive win of WKU’s season so far.


“We had a great plan and we worked hard at it,” coach Bobby Petrino said after the game. “It’s something we’ve been working on since spring and early in August, so it didn’t take just three days to get it done.”

Picking up a win Saturday was an important goal for the Toppers. WKU is already 0-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, and while last week’s win over Morgan State got the team back on the right track, the Toppers needed a good win over a quality opponent to set them right heading into their Sun Belt slate.

Saturday had all the elements of the good win the Toppers were looking for.

Junior Brandon Doughty looked good in the offensive backfield — he went 25-of-31 for 198 yards and even had a couple of good runs that were called back due to penalties. Doughty looked like the best quarterback on WKU’s roster.

Senior running back Antonio Andrews had his most impressive performance of the season — better than last week’s thrashing against Morgan State — as he picked up 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 carries and added 35 yards through the air.

Andrews had more rushing yards (182) by himself than the entire Navy offense (107). The Midshipmen came into the game averaging 398 rushing yards a game, good for No. 1 in the NCAA. It’s safe to say they’re probably going to drop a few spots this week.

It was a shutdown performance from the Topper defense, but don’t call it a statement — junior safety Jonathan Dowling, who had two picks, said his teammates believe they can play like they did Saturday in every game.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a statement game for our defense because we’ve played a lot better and we know what we can do,” he said. “From my point of view, I just feel like it’s a good win for the program and a good win for the Tops. It feels great to bring this win home for Bowling Green.”

The dominant performance by the WKU defense allowed the offense to beat the Midshipmen at their own game — the ground-and-pound. The Toppers don’t need Doughty to be a Heisman candidate or Andrews to put five scores on the board every week if the defense can hold its opponent to seven points.

The Toppers won’t have much time to celebrate — their next game is Thursday on the road against Louisiana-Monroe.

The Warhawks are off to a 2-2 start this season but have one of the top threats in the Sun Belt in dual-threat quarterback Kolton Browning.

A week ago, shutting down someone like Browning would have sounded like a tall task for WKU. But after Saturday’s win over Navy, the Toppers showed they just might have what it takes.