Notebook: Controversial spot helps sink Toppers

WKU cheerleaders cringe as Arkansas State scores their winning touchdown against Arkansas State at Smith Stadium on Saturday. WKU lost 26-22.

Brad Stephens

As the nose of the football stuck out ahead of the first-down marker, it appeared WKU had just put on ice a 22-19 win over Arkansas State Saturday in Smith Stadium.

Junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes had scrambled for 10 yards on a 3rd and 10 with less than three minutes left, appearing to fall just ahead of the first down marker.

But the Sun Belt Conference replay officials buzzed down to the officiating crew that they wanted to take another look at the spot.

Upon further review, the ball was moved back to the 32-yard line, negating the first down and setting up a 4th and 1.

Arkansas State stopped senior running back Bobby Rainey on the fourth down attempt, then drove down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 26-22 Red Wolves’ victory.

“We thought we had the first down from where they marked it,” Head Coach Willie Taggart said following the game. “We were planning on trying to run down the clock when that happened and they reviewed it and spotted it differently.”

Taggart said he disagreed with re-spotting the ball.

“It was a great run and we just felt like things were going our way,” said Taggart, who addressed media alone following the loss. “Then, all of a sudden, it was gone just like that.”

Jakes’ running pleases Taggart

One of Jakes’ most common criticisms has been that the athletic quarterback hasn’t run more with the ball.

He had just 42 yards coming into Saturday’s game, but ran for 60 against Arkansas State, with most of those yards coming on scrambles.

During one third quarter scoring drive, Jakes had runs of 14, 15 and 16 yards.

Taggart said he’s “been preaching” for Jakes to use his legs more.

“I wish he’d run more often,” Taggart said. “When you can do that as a quarterback you give the defense a little more problems.”

Special teams blunders cost WKU

WKU was plagued by special teams miscues in the second quarter.

First, an illegal formation penalty nullified a muffed punt recovery at the Arkansas State 12-yard line.

Next, senior cornerback Derrius Brooks hit Red Wolves’ punt returner Dwayne Frampton after he called a fair catch, costing the Toppers 15 yards.

Finally, on the next-to-last play of the first half, sophomore linebacker Bar’ee Boyd was ejected after throwing a punch at Arkansas State special teamer Artez Brown.

“We’ve just got to be disciplined,” Taggart said. “Derrius and Bar’ee were just plain not smart at all. That was all on those guys.

“We need to either get that corrected or put some other guys in there… It wasn’t the whole special teams, it was two guys that made some bonehead plays.”

Taggart said additional punishment for Boyd would be addressed “internally.”

Other notes

  • Senior running back Bobby Rainey was held to 86 yards on 28 carries, bringing to an end an eight-game streak of Rainey rushing for at least 100 yards. That mark ties a school record. 
  • Junior safety Kareem Peterson made his first appearance of the year, after missing WKU’s first three games with a leg injury. He collected seven tackles. 
  • Freshman kicker Jesse Roy was listed as the team’s starter Saturday, but senior Casey Tinius kicked both of the Toppers’ extra point attempts. Tinius went 2-for-2.
  • Announced attendance at Smith Stadium was 10,813, the smallest crowd to see a WKU game this season. 
  • Taggart’s record as a head coach falls to 2-14, while Jakes’ record as WKU starter fell to 2-21.