Notebook: Clendenin, Wright go down in win

FIU running back Darriet Perry is taken down by WKU’s sophomore strongside linebacker Xavius Boyd in the first half. WKU beat FIU 10-9.

Brad Stephens

WKU players sprinted from the sidelines to mob senior

kicker Casey Tinius after he kicked a game-winning field goal to

beat Florida International 10-9 Saturday at Smith Stadium.

But noticeably absent from the celebration were

senior defensive end Jared Clendenin and sophomore cornerback Arius

Wright.

Clendenin rolled an ankle in the fourth quarter and

missed the remainder of the game.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said he thought the

Toppers’ defensive captain was held by a Golden Panther lineman on

the play.

Clendenin notched three tackles, including one for a

three-yard loss, before leaving with the hurt ankle.

The Stone Mountain. Ga., native has played with a

cast on his left arm in recent weeks to protect an undisclosed arm

injury.

Meanwhile Wright went down in the second quarter with

what team spokesmen called a lower leg/right ankle injury.

He was carried off by trainers and stood on the

sideline using crutches for the rest of the game.

Wright, used primarily this season as a backup

defensive back and special teamer, assisted on one tackle

Saturday.

“They’ll be fine,” Taggart said. “We heal differently

around here.”

Emotional night for Tinius

Tinius has drawn plenty criticism from WKU fans for

his performance over the past two seasons.

The former Bowling Green High School standout was

6-of-15 kicking field goals in 2010, and was 1-of-8 in 2011 coming

into Saturday.

But he got the job done against FIU, kicking the

game-winning 34-yard field goal.

“For the past two years I haven’t been getting the

job done, that’s the bottom line,” Tinius said. “That’s why I was

so emotional and I just couldn’t get over it because I got the job

done.”

He said the kick ranked “way above No. 2” in ranking

the biggest kicks of his career.

“I’ve never had that much that meant this much to me,

meant this much to my team, because you know one more win and we’re

bowl eligible,” Tinius said.

It was the first time Tinius had kicked a field goal

since a miss on Oct. 15 in a 20-0 win over Florida Atlantic.

He got an opportunity after his replacement, freshman

Jesse Roy, missed two field goals.

“Roy had been under the weather the last couple of

days, had a high fever, and today was feeling a little better,”

Taggart said. “We knew if he went in the game he probably wouldn’t

be 100 percent, and we told Casey to be ready.”

WKU falls short on #22113

campaign

Athletics Director Ross Bjork wrote an open letter to

WKU fans Monday, encouraging them to sell out Smith Stadium’s

22,113-seat capacity.

Throughout the week, hashtags of #22113 accompanied

tweets from Bjork, Taggart, players and other athletic department

personnel.

But the announced crowd came out to 15,293, well

short of the Toppers’ sellout goal.

“It was disappointing, but not discouraging,”

Associate Athletic Director Todd Stewart said of the crowd. “We’re

certainly happy about the people that did come out, we certainly

appreciate their loyalty and obviously for those that didn’t come

out, we just have to keep engaging them.

“We had great fans that came out, we’d just like to

see more of them come out.”

WKU has averaged 15,285 fans through five games this

season at Smith Stadium.

Other notes

-Senior running back Bobby Rainey finished with 155

rushing yards on 28 carries. He’s now accumulated more than 4,000

rushing yards for his career, moving him past Taggart, a former WKU

quarterback, into second place on the Toppers’ all-time rushing

list.

-Sophomore fullback Kadeem Jones scored on a two-yard

touchdown run in the first quarter. He now has eight total

touchdowns this season, second only to Rainey’s 12.

-Junior tight end Ryan Wallace was the long snapper

and senior strong safety Ryan Beard the holder on Tinius’

game-winning kick. All three were teammates at Bowling Green High

School before coming to WKU.

-Freshman wide receiver Rico Brown (two catches, 51

yards) was the only Topper to catch more than one pass Saturday.

Junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed passes to seven different

receivers.   

-Sophomore linebacker Andrew Jackson led WKU with

nine tackles. He went into Saturday with a Sun Belt Conference-high

81 stops.

-Taggart improved to 7-14 as WKU coach, while Jakes’

record as starting quarterback now stands at 7-22.