Big Red in the Bluegrass State: Hilltoppers Win in Overtime at Kentucky
It wasn't easy, but the WKU Hilltoppers made history Saturday night, beating Kentucky on the football field for the first time. WKU blew a 17 point first half lead, but won the game in overtime in dramatic fashion, 32-31. Kentucky scored a touchdown on their first overtime possession, forcing WKU to do the same. After Hilltopper running back Antonio Andrews scored, WKU needed an extra point to tie and go into a second overtime. But Hilltopper head coach Willie Taggart rolled the dice and decided to go for a two-point conversion.
WKU quarterback Kawaun Jakes took the snap from center, took one step back, and looked to his right. Jakes threw a short latteral pass to Andrews. With UK defenders collapsing on him, Andrews wheeled around and passed the ball back to Jakes, who ran into the end zone untouched for the game winning play.
WKU 32, UK 31. Game over.
This is the first win ever for WKU over Kentucky in football, and the Hilltoppers first ever win against an SEC opponent.
After the game, Taggart said the trick play that came through on the two-point conversion was something the team began practicing only this week. Taggart said he knew his defense was tired and he wanted the game decided one way or the other in the first overtime.
Antonio Andrews was the offensive hero for WKU, carrying the ball 34 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns. By contrast, Kentucky's leading rusher, Jonathan George, ran for only 51 yards.
WKU quarterback Kawaun Jakes connected on 16 of 22 passes for 160 yards. He threw for one touchdown and one interception.
Kentucky's offense relied almost solely on the pass, with UK quarterback Maxwell Smith throwing for 332 yards on 37 for 60 passing. But the WKU defense made Kentucky pay for going to the air so often, picking off the UK QB four times.
For a while it looked like WKU might blow the Wildcats out of their own stadium. After scoring first on a Garrett Schwettman 23 yard field goal in the first quarter, running back Antonio Andrews scored on a 1 yard run.
After a Kentucky turnover, WKU drove the ball back down to the Kentucky 1 yard line, with Andrews again doing the honors with his second touchdown run, putting the Toppers up 17-0.
But Kentucky managed to score 10 points in the final three minutes of the first half, with Jonathan George rushing for an 8 yard touchdown, and kicker Craig McIntosh connecting on a 47 yard field goal right before the first half ended.
WKU answered in the third quarter, with Jakes hitting Willie McNeal for a 13 yard touchdown, putting the Toppers up 24-10. Five minutes later, UK's Smith connected with George for a 15 yard touchdown, cutting the WKU lead back down to seven.
With time running out and Kentucky desperately trying to tie the game, the Cats were helped out by a WKU penalty. A late hit out of bounds on a WKU defender gave UK 15 yards and a first down close to the WKU goal line. On the next play, the Cats tied the game with only 24 seconds left in regulation.
But it was not to be for the Wildcats. As the WKU fight song goes, this was "dear ol' Western's day", once Jakes ran the trick-play two-point conversion in.
The 2-1 Hilltoppers host Southern Mississippi next Saturday night at L.T. Smith Stadium.