Football notes: WKU’s growing streak on a record pace

Freshman defensive back Tyree Robinson, redshirt freshman defensive back Kiante Young and sophomore defensive back Jamal Forrest watch the last play of Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe. ULM beat WKU 35-30.

Zach Greenwell

With Saturday’s 35-30 loss to Louisiana-Monroe, WKU inched its way deeper into a record book it wants no part of.

The Toppers’ 26-game losing streak is tied for the sixth-longest of all-time. Northwestern has the longest string of losses, dropping 34 straight from 1979-1982.

Head Coach Willie Taggart has only been a part of six games in WKU’s streak, but he said Saturday that even he’s starting to see some patterns.

“It’s funny how we keep coming up in a different situation within that game where it can affect the game,” Taggart said. “We just haven’t dealt with it the right way.”

The Toppers travel to Louisiana-Lafayette next Saturday, where even more unwanted history could be waiting.

One more loss moves WKU into a tie for the fourth-longest losing streak of all-time, and two more will place them in a tie for second on the list.

“Willie has got to be proud of his football team, and I really felt for him,” ULM Head Coach Todd Berry said. “They’ve got a decent football team and they are playing so hard … you know it was just a crusher for them.

“They will rally up and they will win some games because they’ve got a decent football team. They just have to keep on keeping on there.”

Junior safety Ryan Beard said Saturday’s loss hurts the same as all the rest, but that he also realizes the Toppers are at a crossroads.

It also wouldn’t hurt to keep their names out of the wrong record books.

“Everybody’s disappointed, but nobody gets anywhere in life with quitting,” Beard said. “We’re going to go back to work and get better.

“It’d be easy to tuck your tail and quit on the team, but that’s what we’ve got to do as older guys — make sure everybody stays together and works toward the goal we have.”

Major meltdown

The Toppers that took the field during the fourth quarter Saturday night couldn’t have played a better foil to the first-half versions of themselves.

After forcing ULM to punt on its first four drives, WKU allowed the Warhawks to score four straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

And after holding ULM to 138 yards of offense in the first half, WKU had surrendered 339 yards by the time the clock struck zero.

So what led to the implosion?

“We just didn’t get off the field on third downs, and part of that is coaching,” Taggart said. “I didn’t think we did a good job of coaching in those situations, and offensively, we just didn’t get anything done.”

WKU was never able to respond offensively during ULM’s comeback, twice going three-and-out before sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes threw an interception that was returned for the game-sealing touchdown.

Beard said the turnaround came so quickly that he wasn’t sure exactly how it all happened.

But Taggart said he won’t have to look far for answers.

“We have to look at the film and see what’s causing those problems,” Taggart said. “I don’t think it’s a mystery. I think it’s on the film, and we’ve got to do a good job as coaches of finding those problems and getting them corrected.”

Special team woes

When the Warhawks rattled off four straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter, they got a big boost from field position.

Their worst starting spot on those four scores was their own 39-yard line, and they only began a drive within their own 25-yard line three times in the game.

“It was the kickoff team that didn’t do anything this game,” Taggart said. “The best way I know to fix that is put the right personnel in there.”

Extra notes

Freshman running back Antonio Andrews connected with sophomore receiver Marcus Vasquez for a 37-yard pass on WKU’s first offensive play. The trick play came off a reverse, and it was Andrews’ first career passing attempt … Kicker Casey Tinius’ 25-yard field goal Saturday was his first make since a 25-yarder in the Toppers’ opener at Nebraska, making him 2-of-6 this season … Saturday’s announced attendance was 15,142.