Overcoming a 13-0 deficit against reigning conference champion Arkansas State is hard enough to accomplish.
Doing that without your starting quarterback? Even harder.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers did just that though, thanks to the impressive performance from backup quarterback James Mauro.
After starting QB Kawaun Jakes suffered an injury to his left knee late in the second quarter and was unable to return to the game, WKU turned to Mauro to start off the second half of play.
Only seeing action in two previous games this year, the 20-year-old has completed four of six passes for a grand total of 68 yards, with 32 coming on one play.
Forced into a high-pressure situation like this, the redshirt freshman reacted like one would expect—a three-and-out on his first drive.
The jitters were gone after that. The next two times the Hilltoppers gained possession, Mauro led his team downfield, capping both drives off with a touchdown pass.
Hauling in Mauro's first career touchdown was tight end Mitchell Henry, a one-yard pass. The score was also Henry's first career TD, a score that put the Tops on the board for the first time that night.
An interception gave the ball right back to Western, and the offense led by No. 13 capitalized on the good field position.
On the third play of the drive, Mauro hooked up with Henry once again, this time on a 22-yard pass to the back corner of the endzone. Their second connection of the night put their team up 14-13, and they never looked back.
James Mauro finished the game with eight completions for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for the first real action of his career.
The Hilltoppers improved to 4-1 (1-0) on the season as they eventually beat the Red Wolves 27-13. The team's only loss came against No. 1 Alabama.
Not playing again for another two weeks, the quarterback situation will be an entertaining one to follow. Jakes is off to a stellar start in this 2012 season, but given Mauro's impressive outing, the coaches will have to consider both options.
Assuming Jakes' injury is nothing serious, the nod will more than likely be given to the senior. Fans of WKU can rest easy, though, knowing the team is in good hands for the next few years with Mauro waiting in the wings.
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