Notes: Taggart wanted same two-point conversion play in regulation

Zach Greenwell

Sometimes a person reaches his or her breaking point.

Head Coach Willie Taggart was there Saturday night.

After scoring a touchdown to pull within 28-27 with no time left on the clock at Arkansas State, Taggart put in the call for a two-point conversion, with junior cornerback Derrius Brooks taking a reverse around the left side.

The plan was foiled by a penalty that backed up WKU, but when the Toppers answered an ASU touchdown in overtime, Taggart went right back to the same play.

It worked to perfection, and Brooks dove into the end zone for a win that’s likely to become part of Topper lore.

“The way our season has been going, I thought, ‘Why not?'” Taggart said. “We needed a spark, and our guys wanted it.”

Taggart said Brooks, a converted receiver, asked him throughout the game to consider using the reverse play.

Wrong personnel and a delay of game spoiled the opportunity in regulation, but Taggart said he didn’t change the play call at all the next time around.

“Luckily, there was a delay of game because I think they would have got us on that one,” Taggart said. “But in overtime, we saw the way they scored so quick, and I said, ‘This is one where we need to just go try to seal the deal.'”

It was junior running back Bobby Rainey who scored the touchdown to bring WKU back in overtime.

Facing a choice between the Brooks play and an extra point, Rainey said all of the Toppers were on the same page.

“Of course I was excited — he’s the fastest player on the team,” Rainey said, laughing. “He was excited on the sideline before the play, and that’s all it takes to make me the same way.”

Haynes steps in

WKU had a gaping hole in one of its receiver slots this week after sophomore receiver Marcus Vasquez broke his collarbone against Florida Atlantic last weekend.

Taggart said during the week that he was looking for someone to step up, and he found that person in sophomore receiver Dexter Haynes.

Haynes came into the game with just three catches for 77 yards, but he added three receptions for 80 yards against ASU, including a 33-yard touchdown.

“Dexter was saying all week, ‘Coach, it’s about to get nuclear out here,'” Taggart said. “He said it all week, and he was saying it today. He wanted it, and that’s great to see in our young receivers. It’s good to see someone step up no matter where it is.”

Haynes also had a big catch late in the fourth quarter, coming up with a 17-yard reception on third down on WKU’s final drive of regulation.

“All year, we’ve been talking about the fourth quarter,” Haynes said. “We had a couple of tough losses through the season, but we just kept fighting and kept fighting.”

Haynes played a large majority of the game alongside freshman receiver Willie McNeal. Sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes found each in the end zone, which he said is relieving after losing Vasquez.

Sophomore tight end Jack Doyle also didn’t start for the third straight game with a neck injury, although he did enter for one play late in the game.

“Somebody had to step up, and Dexter and Willie did it today,” Jakes said.

Final home showing

That’s now two wins for WKU this season — and it’s two wins on the road.

The Toppers will try to break that trend next Saturday, when they host rival Middle Tennessee at 3:15 p.m. in Houchens-Smith Stadium.

“I guess we need to just play all our games away because it seems like we can’t win at home,” Rainey said. “We need all the fans to show up next weekend, and we need the 13 that were here today.”

Despite the success on the road, Taggart said he’d much rather take care of business at home than stay away from Bowling Green.

“We’re going to enjoy this for 24 hours, and then we’re going to get back to work,” he said. “We’ve got something else we haven’t done this year yet, and that’s to win at home. We’ve got to get back to work and do that.”

WKU’s attendance has declined each home game this season, going from more 20,000 for Indiana down to less than 11,000 for last weekend’s game against FAU.

The Toppers will try to raise that number when MTSU comes to town for WKU’s final home game, especially coming off of a win.

Senior associate athletic director Todd Stewart said next Saturday’s game will be known as “Fan Appreciation Day,” and all remaining tickets for MTSU will be available for $6.