Western Kentucky follows winning script against Kentucky

mmaloney@herald-leader.comSeptember 1, 2013 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

NASHVILLE — For Western Kentucky, things went according to script in Saturday's 35-26 victory over Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers, scripting their opening drive, marched down the LP Field turf to Keshawn Simpson's 3-yard touchdown run and would never trail.

"I'm really proud of our football team," Bobby Petrino said after his first game as coach of the Toppers.

He credited off-season and training camp work, his assistant coaches who "did a good job at halftime, I thought, of making some adjustments. And I can't say enough about our players.

"Brandon Doughty (the quarterback) had a great game. Our offensive line, I thought, controlled the line of scrimmage and we were able to run the ball in the second half, which is something that always helps you win games. Defensively, we just kept battling. They (Kentucky) did some things that were very difficult when (quarterback Jalen) Whitlow was in there ... and we just kept battling away and came up with some big stops in the third quarter."

Petrino is now 9-0 in season openers, including 5-0 against UK. The first four came when he was the head man at Louisville. He is 5-1 all-time versus the Wildcats.

Western outgained UK 487 yards to 419. Antonio Andrews, who ran for 123 yards in last year's win at Lexington, gained 99 this time on 20 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown. Leon Allen added 92 yards and a TD on 10 carries, while Simpson had 34 yards and two scores on eight carries.

"We got the 'W' — it wasn't one of my best games," Andrews said. "But at the same time, it's good to see Keshawn and Leon step up.

"We're starting off the season undefeated, 1-0 in the SEC. We've got another SEC opponent next week in UT (Tennessee)."

Doughty, who completed all five of his passes on Western's opening touchdown drive, finished 27-for-34, good for 271 yards. Included was a 9-yard touchdown catch by Mitchell Henry.

"He did an unbelievable job," Petrino said of Doughty. "He came out and really understood the game plan. He was quick getting the ball out of his hand and very, very accurate, so we got yards early after the catch, and he just continued to execute and make good decisions."

Western led 21-17 at halftime, scoring three touchdowns and losing two fumbles on its first five possessions.

"We beat ourselves," said Andrews, who lost both fumbles. "Everything we did wrong we did ourselves. We're better than that. We should have put up more points."

Doughty, a redshirt junior, called his role "kind of like a blessing."

"I just felt so comfortable out there tonight," he said. "I just told myself I was going to put everything on the Lord and He really helped me out throughout this game. I was going to fear no man, but I was going to fear the Lord."

Doughty showed no fear in leading Petrino's passing attack.

"It's an unbelievable experience," he said, "and to see it at work live one-on-ones against Kentucky was awesome."

Just as scripted.

Notes

"We've always got room for improvement," said senior linebacker Xavius Boyd, who had 10 tackles (including two sacks) against UK for the second season in a row. "But I was very proud of the guys tonight. They played hard and we got a 'W'."

■ Senior linebacker Andrew Jackson recorded eight tackles, marking the eighth time in the past 12 games he has had at least eight. He also had the hit of the game when he drilled Jonathan George for a 3-yard loss on a third-and-two play midway through the third quarter.

■ Petrino-coached teams have forced a turnover in 10 consecutive games.

■ Western has opening wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since winning five in a row from 1996 through 2000.

■ Saturday's attendance of 47,623 was the 15th-highest attended game in WKU history.

■ The Hilltoppers completed 27 passes, breaking the school's FBS record of 25, set last October against Louisiana Monroe.

■ Andrews finished with 194 all-purpose yards, marking his eighth straight game over the 150 mark and his 14th in a row with at least 100.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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