It only took minutes, okay, maybe seconds, for Western Kentucky to squash any concerns of a possible letdown or for that matter, a tight ball game against visiting Middle Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon in Bowling Green. Trailing their rivals by five games in the 65th meeting between the two rivals and in search of their first home win against the Blue Raiders since 1989, WKU scored its first touchdown just 90 seconds into the game and proved unstoppable on all but two of their nine first half possessions en route to a dominating 58-28 victory.
Highlighted by a 59-yard catch and run between Brandon Doughty and Nicholas Norris and capped with a seven yard touchdown run by D'Andre Ferby, WKU needed four plays to march 75 yards to score on its opening possession. The Hilltoppers defense limited the Blue Raiders to just 42 yards on their first three possessions, all of which the offense responded with a touchdown drive.
Doughty connected with Tyler Higbee, who entered the contest as the nation's top-catching tight end, for a 43-yard touchdown on its second drive. Norris hauled in a back-to-back passes, the first for 32 yards and the second a 10-yard touchdown, to make it 21-0 with just only 5:59 of game time expired.
Middle Tennessee found a spark after a first quarter interception at its own 18 yard line, responding with a 9-play, 82-yard touchdown drive, but their brief sense of momentum quickly dissipated on WKU's ensuing possession. Taywan Taylor found the end zone on a 10-yard pass from Doughty on the Hilltoppers next series to finish a 6-play, 75-yard drive and push the lead back to three touchdowns.
Following an interception by Prince-Charles Iwora at the WKU 38 yard line, the Doughty directed another touchdown drive. A highlight worthy 24-yard reception by Antwane Grant at the Blue Raiders nine yard line set up Taylor's second touchdown catch and a 35-7 early second quarter lead. After a 10-play, 74-yard MTSU scoring drive that trimmed the margin to 35-14, WKU head coach Jeff Brohm called for a bit of trickery when the offense returned to the field. A flea-flicker resulted in a 69-yard pass from Nacarius Fant to Taylor for a one-play touchdown drive. WKU added a 5-yard Doughty to Jared Dangerfield touchdown and a Garrett Schwettman 31-yard field goal to build a 52-14 halftime lead.
By halftime, the WKU offense had compiled 484 yards. Despite his one interception, Doughty was nearly perfect, throwing for 333 yards and five touchdowns. Norris and Taylor combined for 261 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Middle Tennessee scored on the opening drive of the second half on a 34-yard touchdown pass when facing a fourth and six situation. Despite forcing the Hilltoppers to punt for the first time on their first second half series, the Blue Raiders couldn't muster much more of a threat for the remainder of the game. MTSU added an early fourth quarter touchdown and the Hilltoppers and a pair of Schwettman field goals.
WKU improves to 5-1 overall and first 3-0 start in conference play since moving to the FBS level.