Recap: Western Kentucky 36, Navy 27

After a Navy-dominated first half, WKU's defense tightened up in the second, sealing the win with a touchdown return in the closing minutes.

Earlier this week, we wrote about Western Kentucky's defense needing to improve most on passing downs (second-and-8, or third/fourth-and-5 or longer.)

So it's only fitting that clinging to a 29-27 lead in the final minutes, the Tops defense earned stops on second-and-10 and third-and-10, followed by junior defensive back Wonderful Terry intercepting a pass on fourth-and-10--and returning it 43 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.

"They were ready for us," WKU defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. "Heck, they had a buncha yards.

"But bottom line is we got some big stops when we needed ‘em. Especially in the third quarter. We played really well for a quarter-and-a-half. In the second half I thought we played really well after the first series."

The success rate chart from the game echoes Holt's statement.

Navy went 7-for-7 (100 percent) on the second half's opening drive, taking a 21-13 lead on a 77-yard touchdown drive.

But the remainder of the third quarter? The Midshipmen were only successful on 3-for-13 plays (23 percent.)

“Really proud that they hung with it," Holt said. "There was a lot of stuff to get better at, but what I love is their grit and they just kept battling and battling.

“We made some adjustments at halftime and late second quarter and they got ‘em down really good and they got better as the game went on and they came up with some huge plays in the fourth quarter."

The third quarter surge from the defense set up an opportunity for the Tops offense to increase a 22-21 early fourth quarter lead.

WKU drove 91 yards in 15 plays, with a 12-for-15 (80 percent) success rate, taking a 29-21 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Brandon Doughty on third-and-goal at the Navy 1.

Navy would score a quick touchdown on their next drive, and forced WKU to punt on their next possession, regaining the ball down 2 with 1:36 to play--before the Terry interception return sealed the game.

Highly-touted junior college transfer Dejon Brown led the Tops defense with 10 tackles and 1 sack.

Doughty finished with 387 yards and 2 touchdowns on 38-for-54 passing attempts.

Junior running back Leon Allen rushed for 102 yards on 17 carries, and sophomore Anthony "Ace" Wales added 60 yards on 14 attempts.

"They fought and battled the entire game," WKU head coach Jeff Brohm said. "We knew going into it on both sides of the ball that this is a good football team, they play good competition and we were gonna have to play 60 minutes to win.

“We told ‘em going into this game, ‘Hey, when you go on the road, it’s kind of like going into a championship boxing match. You’ve got to definitely prove you’re the better team, because the tie’s gonna go to the champ, if it’s close they’re gonna give it to the champ.’

“So we continued to fight and battle, our defense did, they hung in there. Did they give up a few big plays? Yeah, but a lot of people have against that offense. Then they found a way to make plays when they needed to.”

The Tops improved to 2-2 on the season, while Navy fell to 2-3.

WKU will host only their second home contest of the season next weekend, a 6 p.m. kickoff against conference foe UAB.

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