WKU beats ULL 42-23, ends 18-game home losing streak

Tight end Jack Doyle get a hug from a fan in celebration of WKU’s victory against Louisana Lafayette 42-23 on Saturday night. It was WKU’s first home victory since 2008.

Brad Stephens

The final losing streak is finally dead.

It took three years, one month and two days after

beating Murray State on Sept. 20, 2008 before WKU got another home

football win.

That long-awaited victory came on Homecoming Saturday

as the Toppers beat Louisiana-Lafayette 42-23 in front of 15,122 at

Smith Stadium, ending their 18-game home losing streak.

WKU (3-4, 3-1 Sun Belt Conference) is now riding a

three-game winning streak and stands alone in third place in the

league standings.

“Every week we’d come home people would talk about

getting rid of this losing streak, getting rid of this losing

streak, and not one time people would talk about winning,” Head

Coach Willie Taggart said. “We don’t talk about losing no more. All

we talk about is winning.”

Taggart and the Toppers snapped a 26-game overall

losing streak last season, also coming against ULL.

But WKU couldn’t quite break through at home.

In the past calendar year the Toppers had endured

losses to Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas

State in which they gave up second half leads.

That all came to an end Saturday.

The Toppers took a quick 7-0 lead, led 21-17 at

halftime and stretched the margin throughout the second half.

When the fourth quarter clock hit zeros, students,

family members and other fans flooded the field and mobbed the


“They had been hungry for a win around here for a

long time, and we had been teasing them for a long time,” Taggart

said. “It was really good to see everybody smiling and everybody

happy. I had missed that.”

Saturday WKU got big performances from its star

running back, senior Bobby Rainey, and star tight end, junior Jack


Rainey ran 32 times for 206 yards and a career-high

three touchdowns, while Doyle notched seven receptions for 106


But it was the performance of junior quarterback

Kawaun Jakes that really impressed Taggart.

Jakes had been slowed down throughout the week

because of a thigh bruise sustained last Saturday against FAU.

So the dual-threat quarterback did it through the air

against the Ragin’ Cajuns, going 15-of-18 for 242 yards with one

touchdown and one interception.

“I tell you what, he needs to be hurt out there every

week,” Taggart said smiling. “He was hurt out there, he couldn’t


“He threw the ball really well in practice this week

and I think the injury helped him slow things down… We always said

the kid could do it, he needed help, and he’s starting to get


While the offense scored 42 points and gained 507

yards Saturday, it was senior cornerback Derrius Brooks who may

have made the game’s two biggest plays.

The first came late in the fourth quarter when ULL

quarterback Blaine Gautier, with his team trailing 35-23, threw

deep down the right sideline to wide receiver Javone Lawson.

Brooks, who had been beaten on several throws earlier

in the game, ran stride for stride with Lawson and batted the deep

ball away.

Later in the same drive, Gautier looked for Lawson in

the end zone.

But Brooks had inside position and he snatched the

ball away for WKU’s lone interception of the game.

Two plays later, Rainey sprinted 24 yards to the end

zone to put the Toppers up by three scores and put the game on


Taggart said a conversation with ULL Head Coach Mark

Hudspeth before the game may have given Brooks a little


“Coach Mark told me Derrius was a really, really good

player, he was really stroking him,” Taggart said. “And as I

thought about that they were picking on Derrius, so that made me

think they were telling me he wasn’t any good.

“I told Derrius what happened and told him to go back

out and play like he’s capable of… He stepped up and came back big

for us there at the end.”

Rainey gave the Toppers a 7-0 lead on the game’s

first drive, cruising in from a yard out, as senior left tackle Wes

Jeffries sealed the outside edge.

ULL responded with a Brett Baer field goal and had

the ball back when senior defensive end Jared Clendenin blind sided

Gautier, stripping the ball.

WKU recovered, and three plays later sophomore

fullback Kadeem Jones fell forward for a two yard score and a 14-3


The Ragin’ Cajuns responded swiftly, as running back

Aaron Spikes took a pitch play down the right sideline for a

79-yard touchdown.

The teams traded scores at the end of the half, as

Topper freshman tight end Mitchell Henry and ULL tight end Ladarius

Green both hauled in touchdown grabs.

Rainey and Green traded scores at the end of the

third quarter and beginning of the fourth, giving WKU a 28-23


Finally the Toppers gained a two-score lead when

Jones capped off a six-play, 54-yard drive with a one-yard

touchdown dive.

Sitting high in the Sun Belt standings, in the midst

of a three-game winning streak and having finally won a home game,

Doyle said there won’t be any more talk of losing streaks.

He said there will instead be talk of going to

Monroe, La. next Saturday and beating ULM for the Toppers’ fourth

straight win.

“Yeah it was great to win at home, but we’re on the

next one,” Doyle said. “On to Monroe.”