Football notes: Brooks reflects on 2010 Arkansas State win

Brad Stephens

WKU players can look back fondly on the Toppers’ 36-35 overtime road win over Arkansas State one year ago, one of just two wins for WKU all season.

But senior cornerback Derrius Brooks has especially good memories of the victory.

Brooks came up with two interceptions in that game, then made the winning score when he took a pitch on a two-point conversion attempt and snuck over the goal line.

“I just came out there and did what I do,” he said at practice Wednesday. “I just remember scoring that game-winning touchdown, and hopefully i can do that this year too.”

Brooks and the Toppers will get a chance to defend last year’s win at 3 p.m. Saturday when they host Arkansas State at Smith Stadium.

The matchup will be the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams.

WKU took a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter of last year’s meeting before Red Wolves’ quarterback Ryan Aplin led Arkansas State to 21 unanswered points and a 28-21 lead.

The Toppers forced overtime on the last play of regulation on a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes to freshman wide receiver Willie McNeal.

Aplin took the lead back for the Red Wolves with a 25-yard touchdown run not he first play of overtime.

A three-yard run from junior running back Bobby Rainey made the score 35-34.

Instead of sending junior kicker Casey Tinius onto the field to attempt a game-tying extra point, WKU Head Coach Willie Taggart left the offense on the field to go for the win.

Jakes pitched to Rainey, who in turn pitched to Brooks, a former receiver coming in motion from his old position.

Brooks found a small seam on the left side and fell forward, stretching the ball over the goal line to clinch the win.

He said he was surprised Taggart made the gutsy call for a double-reverse two-point conversion.

“I never thought he was going to call it for that play,” Brooks said. “But we huddled on the sidelines and Bobby and Kawaun said we should run the reverse.

“I said alright, give it to me.”

Wide receivers move on, sans Vasquez

A young WKU receiving corps got even younger when the team’s leading wideout, junior Marcus Vasquez, tore an anterior crucate ligament (ACL) Sept. 17 late in a 44-16 loss to Indiana State.

Suddenly sophomore Jamarielle Brown and freshmen Boe Brand and Rico Brown will be called upon to fill Vasquez’s shoes in the Topper passing game.

Jamarielle Brown said Wednesday that, as the most experienced of the receivers, he wants to take the group’s leadership role.

“I’m trying to embrace the young guys following behind me,” he said. “Throughout the whole bye week (last week) we’ve been in the film room trying to get better.”

Brown said that Vasquez played a big role in his development as a receiver, and he looks to do the same.

“I feel like I don’t only owe (Vasquez,) I owe the coaches and everybody at my position to do the exact same thing he did for me,” he said.

WKU has struggled passing this season, averaging just 131 yards per game through the air.

Brown said the offense must improve if the Toppers are to win Saturday.

“We’ve got to put on a show for our crowd because the offense hasn’t really been doing anything,” he said. “We’ve got to show up and show out like Coach Taggart always tells us.”