Western Kentucky Stuns in-State Rival Kentucky in OT
Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE
The last time the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky beat a SEC opponent was: never.
Until Saturday night, that is, as they took down the Kentucky Wildcats in an instant classic.
In what seemed to be the theme for the first half, WKU jumped out to a field goal lead thanks to a first possession interception by UK's Maxwell Smith.
The pick was Smith's first of the season, but that number rose quickly as the Hilltoppers grabbed four more off the sophomore QB, three of them landing in the hands of Florida transfer Jonathan Dowling.
Western Kentucky held the 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter, but quickly changed that as they scored on their first two possessions. Both scores came via a one yard rush by Antonio Andrews, who was easily the difference maker in this game.
Kentucky made their move, however, tacking on 10 unanswered points, heading to the half down by seven, but with momentum in their favor.
Senior Kawaun Jakes and the rest of the WKU offense quickly took the momentum right back as the second half got underway. The team marched 75 yards down the field on a drive that ended on a Jakes pass that found teammate Willie McNeal wide open in the end zone. The score put Western up 24-10 and would be their final score in regulation.
UK answered yet again though with a touchdown on the following drive.
With two minutes and 14 ticks left in the game and down by seven, Kentucky would have one last chance to save themselves from the embarrassment of losing to the underdog. Miraculously, they did just that, thanks in large part to a late hit on the Hilltoppers that gave the Cats a much needed first down.
Kentucky capitalized on the fresh start with a 22-yard TD pass two plays later to notch things up at 24-all, sending the game into overtime.
If the game wasn't exciting enough to this point, the two teams took it to a whole new level.
WKU won the toss, sending Kentucky's offense out on the field to start the extra time. They responded by scoring in just three plays, putting all the pressure on the Tops.
The life had seemingly been taken out of the visiting Western team and it showed after their first few plays in OT. Kentucky, being the nice team they are, decided to give that life back to them by roughing Kawaun Jakes on a third and seven stop, giving WKU a first down. That first down led to yet another Andrews touchdown rush, his third of the game.
Showing the guts and tenacity the fans back home in Bowling Green have grown to love, Head Coach Willie Taggart left his offense on the field, going for two and the win.
With their destiny in their hands, WKU threw a screen pass to do-it-all man Andrews who was lined up as receiver. After catching the ball, making a perfect hesitation move, Andrews wheeled back around and threw it back to QB Jakes on the left side of the field who waltzed past the pylons sealing the win.
This was the first time time the Tops had beat UK in their previous four attempts and their first win against an SEC team in 17 tries.
Don't call it an upset though. Western Kentucky has now won nine of their last 11 games, the only two losses coming from No. 1 LSU a season ago and the other at the hands of No. 1 Alabama just last week.
You can call it a statement win, however, something the program had yet to establish until this big win. A big win that will look great on their resume at the end of the year as they look to capture their first bowl berth since joining the FBS in 2008.
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