WKU ends season with 28-14 loss at Troy

Brad Stephens

Willie Taggart’s first season as WKU head coach ended with a loss.

The Toppers (2-10, 2-6 Sun Belt Conference) were shut out during the fourth quarter on Saturday and went on to lose 28-14 at Troy (6-5, 5-2).

The loss, coupled with Louisiana-Lafayette’s win over Louisiana-Monroe, means WKU will finish last in the Sun Belt for the second consecutive year. But WKU’s two-win season is an improvement over the 0-12 2009 campaign.

“I told those guys after the game I appreciate their help in starting the process of rebuilding our football team, especially the seniors,” Head Coach Willie Taggart told WKU’s Big Red Radio Network.

The game was tied at 14 going into the fourth quarter.

Then Troy quarterback Corey Robinson connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chip Reeves to put the Trojans up 20-14 — Troy’s first lead of the game.

On Troy’s next possession, running back Shawn Southward scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. Receiver Jerrel Jernigan then found fellow receiver Jamel Johnson in the end zone for the two-point conversion that made the score 28-14, and WKU never answered.

Sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes had another difficult game, completing 10-of-23 passes for 81 yards. He also threw an interception in the Troy end zone.

“We didn’t throw the ball well at all,” Taggart said. “If you don’t throw the ball well in this conference then you’re going to have a hard time winning.

“We kind of expected coming in that the passing game wouldn’t be as good as we needed it to be. But we were able to run the ball and stay in ball games this year.”

Even without the support of a passing game, junior running back Bobby Rainey had another big day.

Rainey ran for 157 yards on 27 carries and accounted for the Toppers’ two touchdowns.

“I knew he was going to be one of our better players this year, and he lived up to it,” Taggart said. “Knowing that we’ll have one of the top running backs in the country next year, that gives us something to build upon.”

Rainey finished the year with 1,649 yards, good for the second-highest single season total in WKU history.

He finished only 19 yards short of Joe Arnold’s record total of 1,668 yards set in 1988.

Defensively, senior linebacker Thomas Majors led WKU with 11 tackles in his last career game.