Western Kentucky edges Arkansas State 34-31
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP)
Arkansas State drove 83 yards on its first possession to score on a 1-yard rush by Ryan Carrethers. Western Kentucky answered with a rushing touchdown by Keshawn Simpson and a Doughty touchdown pass to Willie McNeal. The Hilltoppers (8-4, 4-3 Sun Belt) scored again in the second on a 23-yard pass by Doughty to lead 20-14 at halftime.
The Red Wolves (7-5, 5-2) battled back in the third quarter with a Fredi Knighten rushing touchdown and a Brian Davis field goal. The Hilltoppers scored another rushing TD to close the third.
The back-and-forth continued in the fourth as backup Red Wolves QB J.D. McKissic threw a 6-yard touchdown pass for a 31-27 Arkansas State lead. With 10 seconds to play, Doughty hit McNeal from 2 yards for the Hilltoppers win.
The Hilltoppers can thank a holding penalty that called back a successful 52-yard field goal attempt from Davis, but the penalty moved Arkansas State just outside of field goal range.
Antonio Andrews rushed for 119 yards on 20 attempts and used a 39-yard reception from Doughty during the 99-yard game-winning drive that helped set up Doughty's pass to McNeal.
''Wow, what a great win for us. I'm just really proud of our players and how we stuck together, kept competing,'' coach Bobby Petrino said. ''The only thing I kept thinking the whole time was I need to use Antonio. How can I get him the ball? We decided to throw a screen to him and he made a great play on that and gave him the ball on the draw to make another great play and got us in a position to win the game.''
Andrews surpassed his own single-season rushing record by two yards in the Hilltoppers victory, finishing the regular season with 1,730 yards on the year.
''It means a lot,'' Andrews said. ''This is the best record we've had since being in the FBS and it's just another day to play with these guys and another day with these seniors.''
WKU won the game despite having Arkansas State rushing the defense for 223 yards on the ground. Michael Gordon led the Red Wolves with 132 yards and Knighten rushed for 50 yards on top of his two scores.
Two individual milestones were reached in the first half for WKU.
Andrews' 75 all-purpose yards in the first half moved him past Missouri's Jeremy Maclin for the most all-purpose yards in a two-year span in FBS history.
Doughty's 255 yards set the school record for passing yards in a single season with 2,857.
The Hilltoppers' post-season hopes now lie in the hands of bowl executives, and the team believes they've done enough to earn an extra game.
''Our players deserve it,'' Petrino said. ''We've worked extremely hard. We were .500 at one time and we talked about just keep competing and put a nice four game win streak here together.''