The Tops improved to 6-5 on the year, becoming bowl-eligible for the fourth straight year.
“Great effort by our guys today, I couldn’t be prouder of their performance," WKU head coach Jeff Brohm said. "They definitely continue to get better every week and they work extremely hard to get better.
"It’s important to them and means a lot to them. To finish the home season with a win like this on our home turf for our seniors is just a great job. Our staff, our coaches, everyone involved with the team, I couldn’t be prouder of them. They’ve put in the time and the hard work and it’s definitely paid off.”
After a 59-10 Week 10 loss at Louisiana Tech dropped WKU to 3-5 on the season, it was "now or never" time for the Toppers to fight for bowl-eligibility.
Brohm, his staff and players dug deep and found a way to earn the "now", winning three-straight home games behind a surging defense and already steady offense.
WKU's season-best in yards per play allowed entering the UTEP game? 6.1, twice.
"Their (UTSA's) defense is pretty good, and they stopped us at times," Brohm said. "But when your defense is playing well like that, you’re going to get the ball back.
"We try to talk about..if all three units can play well, if all three units can do what they’re supposed to do, play hard, keep fighting then you’re going to have a chance to win it. At the same time, we’ve really stressed ball security. If we take care of the football, in our opinion, we’re going to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. We’ve definitely done a tremendous job at that. Brandon’s (Doughty) stats at home are off the charts. I’ve never really heard of that before. He’s done a tremendous job and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
WKU led 28-0 at halftime behind four Doughty touchdown passes--three of 47 yards or longer--and would never look back.
It was a dominating first half for the Tops on both sides of the ball, averaging 9.9 yards per play while holding UTSA to 3.6 per play.
The Roadrunners did snap a first down inside the WKU 40-yard line three times in the first half, but didn’t earn a single point on any of those scoring opportunities, ending those drives with a lost fumble, a turnover on downs, and a punt.
“We were just totally inept on offense," UTSA head coach Larry Coker said. "It’s very disheartening for our football team and we just obviously didn’t get it done.
"We gave up some big plays on defense but they were out there way too much and in some bad situations. Many of those bad situations, they stood up and held them to a field goal or no points and my hats off to the defense again for what they did. Offensively, we just didn’t get it done.”
Both teams exchanged punts to start the second half, then junior receiver Jared Dangerfield caught a 16-yard touchdown pass on WKU’s second drive of the period, extending the Tops lead to 35-0 midway through the third quarter.
Fittingly for Senior Day, Willie Mcneal led all WKU receivers with 7 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Redshirt senior fullback Demetrius Coley also scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, his first touchdown since his freshman year.
“Those guys (seniors) have achieved a lot," Brohm said. "They’ve worked hard while they’ve been here, they’ve brought this program to greater heights and greater levels, raised the level of play here.
"Now we’re in Conference USA, a competitive conference. We’ve got to be a good football team to survive and to send them out with a victory like that means a lot. Our players wanted to win very badly. Our seniors wanted to win. You could tell by the work they put in this week and the look in their eye today. I know they’re happy right now."
Marshall (11-0) awaits WKU in their regular-season finale, with kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m. CT in Huntington, W.V. on Friday, Nov. 28--the day after Thanksgiving.
“I’m ready, I'm excited," said WKU senior cornerback Cam Thomas, on the upcoming game against The Herd. "You look forward to games like that, especially to knock off an undefeated team.
"I feel like we’ve got the guys to go out and complete the job. It’s a championship game for us. I feel like we can be champions."