Yahtzee! Tops' five touchdowns beat UK 35-26

Western Kentucky ends the series with Kentucky for the time being on a two-game winning streak.

During Western Kentucky's Aug. 28 post-practice media availability, inside linebacker Andrew Jackson was asked to reflect on the Toppers' 2012 victory over upcoming opponent Kentucky.

Given major coaching changes in the off-season for both sides, was the previous season's win meaningless at this point?

"Yeah, it really is irrelevant because they got a new coach that's gonna try to come around and trick yah and four-wide stuff," Jackson said. "Try to trick us up.

"But we're just gonna hit ‘em in the mouth and get it over with."

True to his word--That's exactly what Jackson did.

The Toppers' defeated the Cats 35-26 at LP Field on Saturday night, ending their series with Kentucky for the foreseeable future on a two-game winning streak.

After taking a year off following his controversial dismissal from Arkansas, new WKU head coach Bobby Petrino was questioned if this win against Kentucky--a school he's always had a disdain for--was emotional for him.

Like a child caught sneaking their hand in the cookie jar, he flashed a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders, seemingly about to make his guilty confession.

But this admission was nothing to be ashamed of.

"Well, they're all good--I love winning," he said. "This is a great win for us.

"It's not about me, it's about our players and our assistant coaches, and how much they work and how much they invested into this game and this team."

WKU grabbed an early lead on the game's opening possession, a beautifully scripted 75-yard drive over nine plays, punctuated by a 3-yard touchdown run from senior running back Keshawn Simpson with 10:53 left in the 1st quarter.

It was a vital beginning for the Toppers' confidence behind new starting quarterback Brandon Doughty, and the momentum kept rolling, as WKU drove 75 yards or more on three of their first four drives of the game.

"I think going into the game, all our players felt like we'd run the ball well and do that," Petrino said. "But we were inexperienced at quarterback, young at wide receiver, so I think the execution of the passing game early in the game really gave everyone confidence, everyone rallied around Brandon.

"Our players did a really nice job in camp of working hard, staying together and going through the long, hard practices we had.

"Our assistant coaches had a great game plan, and did a nice job during the game on the sideline, kept teaching and we kept getting better as the game went on."

On their third possession, a 12-play, 80-yard drive ended with senior running back Antonio Andrews punching in a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Toppers a 14-3 lead.

UK quickly answered with a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, via a 19-yard scoring run from quarterback Jalen Whitlow with 12:47 left in the 1st half.

But Simpson added another 3-yard touchdown run on the next WKU drive, putting the Toppers ahead 21-10, a sizeable gap that Kentucky would never overcome.

Holding a lead as large as 35-17 in the 4th quarter, WKU faced a fourth-and-2 at the UK 29-yard line, now ahead 35-26 with 1:19 to play.

Petrino made sure the Toppers would end the game taking mercy on the "state" school, electing to go for it on the fourth down after a timeout call.

Doughty completed a 17-yard pass to tight end Tyler Higbee, giving WKU the first down at the UK 12-yard line--And finally, allowing the Toppers to "take a knee" to end the contest.

While he's with a new team now, beating Kentucky to open the season was business as usual for Petrino, who improved to 5-0 all-time against the Cats in season openers dating back to his previous coaching position at Louisville.

Andrews finished the night with 194 all-purpose yards and a touchdown, marking the eighth-straight game Andrews has eclipsed 150 all-purpose yards.

Simpson finished with two rushing touchdowns, and sophomore Leon Allen gained 92 yards on only 10 carries (a 9.2 yards-per-carry average,) adding a touchdown of his own.

"We got the 'W'," Andrews said. "It wasn't one of my best games, but it was great being able to see Keshawn (Simpson) and Leon (Allen) step up."

Doughty finished a very accurate 27-for-34 passing, throwing for 271 total yards and a touchdown.

"It was a blessing," the quarterback said of his performance. "I felt so comfortable out there tonight.

"I just told myself I was going to put everything on the Lord, he helped me out throughout this game."

Transitioning from previous Topper' head coach Willie Taggart's run-heavy offense to Petrino's was a daunting task for the junior pass-thrower, but he couldn't contain his excitement on playing for the experienced Petrino and his offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm.

"It's unbelievable, the things and the knowledge that he (Petrino) knows," Doughty said. "Just absolutely crazy.

"He'll come to the sideline and he'll be like 'hey man, they (the defense) are gonna be in this, throw to this guy he'll be open, I promise.' So you know, it's an unbelievable experience, to see the work live."

WKU's defense was led by Jackson (8 tackles) and fellow senior linebacker Xavius Boyd (10).

The Toppers' will now prepare to head to Knoxville in Week 2, to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in historic Neyland Stadium.

"Well, we're starting the season off undefeated in the SEC," Andrews said. "We got another tough opponent next week in Tennessee, so we're hoping to go 2-0."

Stay tuned with WKUInsider.com for the latest in WKU recruiting and team news.

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