Notes: Tops relieved after long-awaited win; Jakes, others have career days

WKU defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 54-21 Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, in Lafayette. WKU players Marcus Vasquez, left, and Derrius Brooks, right, hug after the game.

Zach Greenwell

As hard as it may be to believe, Head Coach Willie Taggart apologized to WKU fans after the Toppers’ 54-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

Taggart apologized for having not broken WKU’s losing streak sooner, but said he hoped a blowout win — only the Toppers’ second ever against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent — was enough to get back in Bowling Green’s good graces.

“I’m happy that our fans can really smile and feel better now,” Taggart said. ‘If there’s any that left us, come on back because we’re going to get this thing rolling.”

Taggart said earlier in the week that the monkey on WKU’s back had grown into a full-sized “King Kong.”

But after the decisive win over ULL, Taggart gave his best impression of Denzel Washington in the movie “Training Day.”

“King Kong don’t have nothing on me,” Taggart said, laughing. “We finally got him off of our back, so now we can just play ball. Earlier in the year, I didn’t think this streak was bothering us too bad, but after those first two conference losses, I got a little concerned.”

Now WKU can breathe a sigh of relief.

The team isn’t used to a one-game winning streak, but junior offensive lineman Wes Jeffries said it hopes to extend the streak against North Texas next weekend. The game will be WKU’s Homecoming.

“We’re celebrating now, but we’ll get to work for North Texas pretty fast,” Jeffries said. “We’ll focus on them, because we plan on getting that second straight win.”

Senior linebacker Chris Bullard said it should be a fun Homecoming week, simply because he thinks he’ll see a few more smiling faces around the Hill.

“It’s nice to be able to go back on campus and give our fans a win,” Bullard said. “I feel like we’ll be able to walk around campus with a little swag about ourselves.”

Jakes shows up critics

There’s arguably no one who’s taken more heat for WKU’s struggles over the past couple weeks than sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes.

Taggart was openly critical of Jakes after the Toppers’ 28-21 loss at Florida International two weeks ago, but he defended him after the crushing loss to Louisiana-Monroe last weekend.

But against ULL, Jakes didn’t need anyone to defend him. His numbers spoke for themselves.

The sophomore completed 18-of-22 passes for 262 yards and had three total touchdowns.

“He handled that criticism very well,” Taggart said. “He didn’t let it get him down, and most teenagers might have let that happen. He showed that leadership you need at quarterback.”

Taggart said he told Jakes early Saturday that he had dreamt the night before that Jakes would have his best game ever against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

“Apparently I need to dream more often,” Taggart said. “It was exciting for him to go out there and play like that.”

Allen, Andrews get their moments

Saturday was a coming-out party for WKU’s entire team, but several players left their own personal stamp on the game.

Sophomore defensive end Jamarcus Allen scored WKU’s first touchdown of the game with a 69-yard fumble return, which Bullard said made him proud.

“That was special because it was our first defensive touchdown in a while, but it was even more special because it was Jamarcus,” Bullard said. “He’s a tackle, and those are the guys that usually don’t get to make the big plays. That was great for him, and that really sparked our defense.”

True freshman running back Antonio Andrews also had a big day. The former Kentucky Mr. Football had 52 rushing yards and his first two career touchdowns, including a 30-yard dash in the fourth quarter.

But Allen and Andrews weren’t the only ones who made big plays.

Freshman tight end Demetrius Coley had two catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, all career firsts.

Junior Derrius Brooks, who’s new to the cornerback position this year, returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown. True freshman Arius Wright also recorded an interception.

“We always talk about how if one guy goes down, another has to step up,” Taggart said. “It was nice to see our young guys step up, because you want them to be a part of the victory.”