It was an exciting night on The Hill. The two Conference USA preseason favorites met for a nationally-televised contest on a perfect evening at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
The host Hilltoppers struck first and raced to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. Unlike in its 14-12 season-opening at Vanderbilt a week earlier, the WKU offense had found its groove. They had 203 yards of offense by the end of the first quarter and had 380 by halftime. The high-powered offense was back.
Western Kentucky continued to rack up the yardage, gaining 590 total yards in the 41-38 victory, but it was the result of an incomplete pass early in the third quarter that was on everyone's minds after the game. With his team leading 27-17, senior running back Leon Allen was hit in his left leg - appearing to bend it in a way that it is not meant - as he reached to collect a pass.
The program learned on Friday afternoon that Allen's injury would sideline him for the season.
“This afternoon, we received confirmation that Leon Allen suffered a knee injury that will force him to miss the remainder of the 2015 season," said a program statement. "He will have the full complement of resources and the total support of our medical team and coaching staff as he goes through the rehabilitation process to return from this injury.”
Allen, who rushed for 1,542 yards last season, remained on the turf for a lengthy period, before trainers helped him off the field and into the locker room. The extent of his injury wasn't known following the game, with coaches hopeful that results from testing would be available on Friday.
"We're not for sure right now," Brohm said during his post game press conference. "I'm not very optimistic. It's unfortunate. You can ask anyone within our program, he's the Most Valuable Player on offense."
Allen was on pace to surpass the 100-yard mark on Thursday night. He rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries before the injury. He also hauled in a 53 yard reception that set up an eventual WKU score. A C-USA Second Team choice in 2014, Allen will be difficult to replace.
"Without him its going to be a challenge," Brohm said.
Redshirt freshman D'Andre Ferby and Indiana transfer Anthony Davis will now get the carries.
"I’m praying for Leon and hopefully everything is OK," said quarterback Brandon Doughty. "If he’s out, we’re going to have to lean on Ferby and Anthony Davis. Hopefully we get (Anthony Wales) back. Yea, we lost our 1,500-yard rusher, but there shouldn’t be a hiccup. There shouldn’t be a drop off at all because those guys are capable.”
With his efforts against Louisiana Tech, Allen moved into tenth place at WKU in career rushing touchdowns with 22 and career rushing yards with 2,353.
Allen is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt season.