Almost two years ago to the day, the WKU football team dropped to 0-3 on the year after coming unglued in a 28-7 loss to Central Arkansas of the Football Championship subdivision. It was fitting that the 2011 Toppers lost in similar fashion Saturday night. The 44-16 loss to Indiana State brought back many painful memories.
Coming into the game, WKU was looking to get back into a normal routine after coming off a challenging week against Navy's triple option. The above mentioned routine was no where to be found as the Toppers gave up an early lead and never recovered. The events that transpired this evening are hard to explain.
Things began to go down hill for the team when freshmen quarterback Brandon Doughty left the game around the 10 minute mark in the first quarter with a knee injury.
"[We] don't know yet [about the condition of Doughty]," said football coach Willie Taggart. He's going to get a MRI and check on his knee."
It was obvious that the offense looked frazzled as they tried to switch game plans.
"It changed things," explained Taggart. "I was planning to start Brandon the whole time. It was unfortunate that he went down, and that's the kind of luck we have been having this season. It was disappointing."
Doughty spent the rest of the game on the sideline sporting a pair of crutches and a look of sheer disbelief. Things would only get worse for WKU after the Doughty injury.
Indiana State senior quarterback Ronnie Fouch would lead the Sycamores on two play, 74 yard drive capped off by Senior wide receiver Justin Hilton's 14 yard touchdown catch.
That score would remain the same until midway through the second quarter when the Toppers would put together a seven play, 20 yard drive capped off by a 40 yard field goal by freshmen Jesse Roy to cut the lead to 7-3. From that point forward, it was all Indiana State.
The Sycamores would go onto score the game's next 27 points and put the game out of reach. What exactly went wrong?
After the defense made headlines after holding UK to 190 total yards. Since that time, the WKU defense has given up a total of 946 yards, including 436 yards on this evening. While the Indiana State offense proved they are a force to be reckoned with, the Topper defense has shot itself in the foot missing tackles, giving up big plays, and ultimately allowing their opponents to score a lot of points.
"We didn't play physical," said Taggart. "We are not playing physical the way I expect our football team to play. To put it all in a nutshell, we're not fundamentally sound right now, and that's what getting us beat."
If there were any positives on the evening in came in the form of the WKU offense. After losing his starting position to Doughty, Kawaun Jakes had one of his best games throwing the ball. Jakes would end the game completing 22-30 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, his first two of the season. While he did make improvements in the passing game, Jakes still made critical mistakes that hurt the team.
Jakes accounted for three turnovers on the evening: one interception and two fumbles. Two of those turnovers had a impact on the scoreboard. In the final seconds of the second quarter, Jakes' only interception on the evening was returned 65 yards. That return would set up a Indiana State field goal by sophomore kicker Cory Little.
With 4:20 remaining in the third, Jakes fumbled the ball on his own 40 yard line and senior defensive lineman Rod Hardy scooped up the ball for a 27 yard return. That would give way for the Sycamores to extend their lead to 34-3. Taggart was quick to point that even with Jakes' improved passing peformance; he still did not get the job done.
"He wasn't good enough, we lost," stated Taggart. "He had some pretty critical turnovers, and that's one of those things that have been haunting him since he's been here [at WKU]."
The only other bright spot for WKU on the evening was Bobby Rainey. The senior tied the school record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing performances. Rainey would carry the ball 23 times for 105 yards.
Despite the fact that Rainey tied the record, the Indiana State defensive line dominated the game putting large quantities of pressures on the WKU backfield. That pressure made it difficult for the offense to do anything on the evening, which translated into another home loss.
With the loss not only did the team fall to 0-3 on the season, it marked the 17th straight home loss. The team has the week off next weekend and will look to end both losing streaks when they open conference play on the first of October when they host Arkansas State.
If the team has anything going for them that weekend, they know what it takes to beat Arkansas State. Last season the Toppers capped off a 36-35 come-from-behind overtime win. Hopefully WKU finds what it takes to win and starts off the second part of their season with a winning record. Only time will tell.