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WKU Holds Off Late Chippewas Rally in Bahamas Bowl, 49-48

Western Kentucky's first bowl victory as an FBS member came in a crazy 49-48 win over Central Michigan in the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Just two years ago, the Central Michigan Chippewas defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. Today, on Christmas Eve, Western Kentucky got its revenge on the Chippewas in the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl with a 49-48 win in Nassau. Besides getting revenge, the Toppers earned their first bowl victory since becoming an FBS member in 2009. In a game that featured contrasting styles of offense, Western Kentucky came out victorious.

WKU head coach Jeff Brohm's offense that came in averaging 44 points per contest scored 42 points to just 14 for Central Michigan in the first half. Quarterback Brandon Doughty, the nation's leading passer, threw for 5 touchdowns and 350 yards in that span.

The Chippewas defense seemed nonexistent for most of the first half, as it looked like Doughty and his receivers were just playing pitch-and-catch. This can be attributed in large part to the outstanding play of the offensive line that features NFL prospect Cameron Clemmons. Along with great offensive play, the Hilltoppers saw a rare outstanding first-half performance from their defense led by defensive coordinator Nick Holt.

Although the Toppers had some issues in the game with Chippewas star wide-out Titus Davis, they gave up only two touchdowns in the first half and (unexpectedly) dominated the line of scrimmage for much of the day. The Hilltoppers came out in the second half and became conservative with the football, allowing Central Michigan to score 35 points in the final quarter and have a chance to win the game on a two-point conversion attempt that ultimately failed.

With a young squad that will see the returns of players including Doughty, running back Leon Allen, corner Wonderful Terry, and wide receiver Jared Dangerfield, Brohm has to be excited about the future of the program. Meanwhile, Chippewas head coach Dan Enos can't help to be proud of his team's effort in the final quarter; the Chippewas will undoubtedly miss the presence of their leader: senior wide receiver Titus Davis, who led the team in receiving yards this season.


Statistics

WKU

  • QB Brandon Doughty (Bahamas Bowl MVP): 31-42, 486 yds, 5 tds
  • WR Willie McNeal (became program's all-time leader in receptions): 5 rec, 155 yds, 1 td, 1 fumble
  • Total Yards: 647
CMU
  • QB Cooper Rush: 28-45, 493 yds, 7 tds, 1 int
  • RB Thomas Rawls (DNP)
  • WR Titus Davis: 6 rec, 139 yds, 4 tds

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