The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers made it clear all week long. They weren't coming to Lexington to simply collect a paycheck Saturday.
The Hilltoppers made that point abundantly clear after scoring a touchdown in overtime to pull within one point of Kentucky with a chance to force a second overtime at Commonwealth Stadium by simply kicking an extra point.
Western Kentucky elected to play for the win, calling a bold halfback pass from Antonio Andrews to quarterback Kawaun Jakes to claim a 32-31 victory over the Wildcats. It marked the first victory for the Sun Belt program over an SEC opponent.
"Our guys had been calling for that play all game," WKU coach Willie Taggart said. "… I knew our defense had been struggling the last part of the game, they weren't playing with the same energy and the same intensity that they were playing with early in the game. I told our guys, ‘If we score, we're going to go for it all. We're playing to win, we're not going to another overtime.
"I brought our team together and was like, ‘Hey, this is what we do. We're the overtime king. Whenever we go to overtime, we win. Our guys were fired up."
"Great play," UK coach Joker Phillips said. "Great play by the (quarterback). I thought we had the first guy down. He broke a tackle and was able to get it out to the quarterback. He's the only guy that we didn't have covered in man-to-man-coverage."
WKU (2-1) survived a furious comeback by UK (1-2) which had once trailed 17-0 thanks in large part to three first-half interceptions by Maxwell Smith. The sophomore quarterback had not been picked off through the first two games of the season, but wound up with with four on the night to offset his 37-of-60 for 332 yards line. UK dropped to 1-11 under Phillips when losing the turnover battle.
Kentucky fought back to tie the game with 24 seconds left in regulation on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Smith to freshman wide receiver DeMarcus Sweat and appeared to have all the momentum going into overtime.
The Cats struck first in OT, scoring on an 11-yard run by Jonathan George to claim the lead for the first time in the game. It marked the junior running back's career-high third touchdown, but the celebration didn't last long.
A controversial personal foul call against UK linebacker Alvin Dupree for roughing the passer negated what would have been a 4th-and-2 situation at the 5-yard line. With a fresh set of downs, the Hilltoppers cashed in on the next play as Andrews plunged into the end zone from the 2. He finished with 125 yards and three touchdowns on the night, but none of his 34 rushing attempts would be bigger than the one pass he through ont he next snap.
• The Wildcats now own a 2-5 record all-time in overtime games.
• Kentucky threw the ball 61 times, its first 60-pass attempt game since throwing 62 times in a triple-overtime game against Tennessee in 2007.
• UK has had 10 or more receivers make a reception in each of its first three games. The Cats had 11 different receivers catch a pass against Louisville, 10 against Kent State and 11 against WKU.
* King, who had a team-high 10 receptions for 84 yards, moved into 12th place on UK's career receiving yards list (1,432) passing Jacob Tamme. He also became the 13th player in program history to catch more than 100 passes in a career.
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