WKU beats ULL to end 18-game home losing streak

WKU Head Coach Willie Taggart gets doused in Gatorade following WKU’s first home football victory since 2008. WKU defeated Louisana-Lafyette 42-23 on Homecoming Saturday night.

Brad Stephens

A Gatorade-soaked Willie Taggart

stood on the outskirts of the mob, taking in the scene


Students, many of whom had never

seen a home football win, were running around on the field, giving

congratulatory slaps to players’ shoulder pads while singing the

school fight song and hugging one another.

WKU had just beaten

Louisiana-Lafayette 42-23 to snap an 18-game Smith Stadium losing


It was the first Homecoming win at

Smith Stadium since the Tops crushed Indiana State 41-3 on Oct. 28,

2006, and was also the first home win of Taggart’s two-year head

coaching career.

“I sat back and watched the

students, fans run on the field… It was really good to see

everybody smiling and everybody happy,” Taggart said after the

game. “I miss that.”

The Toppers, who started this 2011

season 0-3, had been showing a renewed energy since this season’s

Sun Belt Conference play began.


WKU came into

Saturday 2-1 in league play and riding its first two-game win

streak since 2008 after road wins over Middle Tennessee State and

Florida Atlantic.

It was WKU’s fourth road win in five

games dating back to last season.

Despite the road success, the

Toppers still hadn’t broken through in front of their home


“To get all those wins on the road,

it’s just not the same feeling,” senior left tackle Wes Jeffries

said. “When we get a win at home, it’s just a different


The Toppers did just that Saturday

by excelling in a part of that game that had tripped them up in the

past—the fourth quarter.

WKU had blown fourth quarter leads

in several of those 18 straight losses.

The last frame of Saturday’s game

began when ULL tight end Ladarius Green caught a touchdown to cut a

28-17 Topper lead to 28-23.

But that’s where Ragin’ Cajuns’  comeback hopes


WKU drove 54 yards in six plays on

its next drive before sophomore fullback Kadeem Jones went in from

one yard out to give the Toppers a 35-23 lead.

ULL made it all the way to the WKU

16 on its next possession, but the drive fizzled when quarterback

Blaine Gautier couldn’t find wide receiver Javone Lawson on a

fourth and six throw.

The Ragin’ Cajuns got the ball back

with 5:00 left and once again came away empty.

This time it was senior cornerback

Derrius Brooks who ended up with the ball in off Lawson’s hands

after the ULL wideout was hit by senior safety Ryan


It was the Toppers’ only

interception of the day, and it ended any realistic visions the

Ragin’ Cajuns had of winning.

“I don’t even know it happened,”

sophomore cornerback Tyree Robinson said Monday. “Derrius Brooks

just turned around with the ball in his hands… It was like a magic


Consecutive 56- and 24-yard runs

from senior running back Bobby Rainey gave WKU its final 42-23

margin of victory.

With the win, WKU stands at third in

the Sun Belt standings with a 3-1 record, one game behind league

leader Arkansas State and now just a half game behind


The Ragin’ Cajuns had been

undefeated in Sun Belt play and riding a six-game winning streak

before Saturday.

Taggart said the Toppers’ win over

the Ragin’ Cajuns was important not just from the perspective of

ending their long home losing streak, but for staying near the top

of the Sun Belt standings.

“In order to be the man, you’ve got

to beat the man,” Taggart said. “At this time, Lafayette was the

man, and we did that.”