RICHMOND — The last time the Battle of the Bluegrass was waged in Roy Kidd Stadium, two years ago, they tore the goal post down.
Eastern Kentucky had just defeated archrival Western Kentucky, and jubilant students brought down the goal post near where they cheer their beloved Colonels during a big game.
The goal post stood Saturday night, while Western players and fans did the cheering after the Hilltoppers' 37-13 victory. The last Bluegrass battle in the foreseeable future wasn't close like the 26-21 thriller in 2006.
The first half was closely fought, Western leading 16-13 at the break. The Toppers, with more scholarships and on their way to the highest level of college football, dominated after intermission.
Eastern was limited to 79 total yards and five first downs in the second half. The Colonels never advanced past the WKU 38.
Western scored two touchdowns in the first 15:05 to build a safe lead and end its participation in the rivalry by winning five of the last six following a two-year break in the series.
"It always feels good to beat the Colonels," Coach David Elson said. "The key was our offense scoring the first touchdown in the second half. It is about how you finish in the second half, and I thought we played well there."
"We played two quarters out of four," Eastern Coach Dean Hood said. "We didn't play well in the second half."
The first half was different. The teams scored on the first six possessions before a crowd of 18,500, the Toppers leading 16-13 when a WKU field-goal try was blocked by Chris Harris on the last play.
Western (1-1) struck in the second half, completing a 74-yard drive on Derrius Brooks' 17-yard run with 1:40 left in the period.
The Hilltoppers converted on two third-and-long situations, completing passes of 12 and 17 yards. On his scoring run, Brooks bulled over and dragged defenders into the end zone for a 23-13 lead.
Eastern, which had punted on its first two possessions, lost the ball when Stephon Fuqua fumbled the kickoff, and Western's Chris Franklin recovered at the EKU 20.
Marell Booker ran 15 yards, then Tristan Jones caught a 2-yard scoring pass from David Wolke on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"We've got to take care of the football and not do that," Hood said.
Western linebacker Alonzo Higgins, who was credited with a team-high 11 tackles, said, "We came out and put on a little more pressure in the second half. We came out even more hungry."
On offense, Wolke took over at quarterback for starter K.J. Black, who suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter.
"I thought our offense played a great game, and the defense — everybody was playing so well," Wolke said. "It made it a lot easier for me to do my job."
Tyrell Hayden, a former star at Lexington Christian Academy, led the Hilltoppers with 98 yards on 26 carries. Eastern had a net 27 rushing yards on 14 plays. Allan Holland threw for 228 yards, completing 24 of 41 passes.
The first half was marred by four dead-ball personal fouls and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Elson.
Western Ky. 37, Eastern Ky. 13
Western Ky. 7 9 7 14—37
Eastern Ky. 3 10 0 0—13
First quarter: WKU—Booker 4 run (Minturn kick), 7:56. EKU—FG Long 46, 4:19. Second quarter: WKU—Hayden 1 run (kick failed), 13:53. EKU—Holland 6 run (Long kick), 11:35. WKU—FG Siewert 48, 8:09. EKU—FG Long 41, 3:01. Third quarter: WKU—Brooks 17 run (Minturn kick), 1:40. Fourth quarter: WKU—Jones 2 pass from Wolke (Minturn kick), 14:55. WKU—Rainey 2 run (Minturn kick), :48.
First downs 27 14
Rushes-yards 60-248 15-20
Passing 134 228
Punt returns 1-61-11
Kickoff returns 3-59 6-116
Interceptions ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-att-int 14-25-0 24-40-0
Sacked-yards lost 0-0 2-10
Punts 4-35.8 5-36.2
Fumbles lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 7-75 6-67
Time of possession 36:29 23:31
RUSHING—Western, Hayden 26-98, Booker 8-49, Brooks 2-33, Wolke 9-21, Rainey 7-19, Black 3-13, Johnson 2-8, McCloud 1-5, Graves 1-2, Team 1-0. Eastern, Holland 8-15, Walker 5-11, Turner 1-1, Team 1-(-7).
PASSING—Western, Wolke 9-18-0, 84; Black 5-7-0, 50. Eastern, Holland 24-40-0, 228.
RECEIVING— Western, Gaebler 5-45, Brooks 5-43, Booker 1-18, Quinn 1-14, Cooper 1-12, Jones 1-2. Eastern Sizemore 8-67, Watts 5-59, Davis 4-42, Walker 4-11, Fuqua 2-48, Turner 1-1.