Football notebook: South Alabama celebrates win over WKU

WKU running back Antonio Andrews kneels on the field after losing the game to South Alabama. 

Elliott Pratt

MOBILE, Ala. — From the outside looking in, WKU’s game at South Alabama was supposed to be an expected win to get WKU back on the winning track after last week’s loss to Tennessee.

South Alabama (2-1, 1-0 Sun Belt Conference) coach Joey Jones even called the Toppers “the best team on our schedule”.

But Saturday night it was the Jaguars dancing in Mobile, not WKU (1-2, 0-1 SBC).

Jones called it the biggest win for South Alabama. Much could be said that it was equally the biggest loss WKU could have had.

“I want to commend coach Petrino and his team. Western Kentucky is a great football team; we knew that coming in,” Jones said. “They have a first-class organization – they do things right. For us to come out on the winning side against those guys is definitely the biggest win we’ve had since I’ve been here at South Alabama.” 

Jags defense gets to Doughty 

South Alabama cornerback Tyrell Pearson didn’t play for the majority of the game, not seeing any action until the fourth quarter.

That fourth quarter was all he needed to help elevate South Alabama to victory on Saturday.

Pearson was responsible for the two Brandon Doughty interceptions that ultimately ended the game.

His first was a 50-yard pick six that was called back 15 yards for a taunting penalty. His second was at the other end of Doughty’s toss to the end zone in the game’s final seconds to seal the Jaguar win.

But it wasn’t just Pearson or just Doughty that were responsible for WKU’s second straight loss. Doughty was sacked three times and knocked down after the pass even more.

Coach Petrino said the pass game didn’t execute when the Jaguar defense limited the run game.

“You have to go out there and execute from the start of the game to the end of the game until you get a win,” Petrino said. “It was everybody. There were so many opportunities throughout the game where we had a chance to make a play to affect the outcome and we didn’t do it.”

“They started blitzing to start our run game and weren’t able to take advantage of it in the passing game.”

Potential new faces in starting lineup

Petrino said last week that competition for playing time had opened up for players that gave their best efforts in practice.

When the WKU defense took the field for the first time on Saturday, nearly half of players were playing in their first career starts.

Junior defensive end T.J. Smith, freshman defensive lineman DeMarcus Glover, sophomore linebacker Daqual Randall and junior defensive back Rico Brown started on the defensive side.  Randall started over senior linebacker Andrew Jackson.

“We went into the week of practice and graded every play in practice on effort alone,” Petrino said. “The guys that practiced the hardest started the game. So we have to do a better job in practice. We have to do a better job taking practice into the game and executing for four quarters. There were times in the last two game where we looked good but we weren’t consistent enough to execute for four quarters.”

Other notes

– Sophomore kicker Garrett Schwettman made his career long 44 yard field goal in the fourth quarter, making it his seventh straight field goal made. His previous career long field goal was 42 yards.

– Antonio Andrews racked up 122 yards rushing and currently ranks No. 6 nationally in all-purpose yards.

– True freshman wide receiver Nicholas Norris caught seven passes for 95 yards and two scores, making him the first WKU wide receiver since Jake Gaebler to catch multiple touchdown passes in one game.