WKU earns ugly win over Florida International

Lucas Aulbach

The WKU defensive line carried the Toppers through a slugfest in Miami to a 14-6 win over Florida International on Saturday.

It was an inconsistent night for WKU (6-2, 3-1 Sun Belt Conference) on offense but the defense was able to stop the Panthers from getting in the end zone and keep the Toppers ahead in the low-scoring ballgame.

“Our guys, they didn’t break,” coach Willie Taggart said after the game. “They bent a little bit but they played with great effort.”

The Topper defensive line had their best game of the season, holding FIU to 86 rushing yards and combining for a grand total of ten sacks – a career-high five by senior defensive end Quanterus Smith, two by senior defensive end Cole Tischer, one by senior defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen, one by senior defensive tackle Rammell Lewis, and one by junior linebacker Bar’ee Boyd on a botched punt.

Taggart said he was looking to his defense to step up against FIU after giving up 43 points at home against Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.

“We challenged our defense after last week – I felt like we could play a lot better,” he said.

The offense was unable to fully capitalize on their strong showing, though.

WKU took a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter and maintained that lead well into the fourth quarter. The Panthers finally cut the margin by three points with eight minutes left when kicker Jack Griffin hit a 39-yard field goal, bringing the WKU lead down to 7-6.

The Toppers were able to drive it on one more time after the ensuing FIU possession. The Panthers, facing a fourth down at their own 17-yard line, botched the snap on a punt with 2:40 to go – junior linebacker Bar’ee Boyd brought down FIU punter Josh Brisk six yards from the end zone and junior running back Antonio Andrews scored two plays later.

Andrews was a crucial piece of the Topper offense on Saturday. He had 158 yards on 27 rushes and a touchdown. Junior fullback Kadeem Jones scored the other WKU touchdown.

Senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes controlled the pace of the game under center for the Toppers, finishing 14-of-21 for 128 yards an one third-quarter interception.

FIU quarterback Jake Medlock was had an inconsistent night as well, going 15-of-30 for 187 yards but threw a costly interception to Boyd two plays after Jakes tossed one.

WKU will have a short week to recover from the game – the Toppers will take on Middle Tennessee on Thursday at Smith Stadium.