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The Melee in Bowling Green

The eastern division of C-USA gave fans the best brawl of the season on Saturday night. Watch it again and again.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Old Dominion visited Bowling Green on Saturday to challenge Western Kentucky for the top spot of C-USA East. Though the contest wasn’t even close, the Monarchs didn’t go down without fight.

Emotions were heated throughout the game, but towards the end of the second quarter there was a minor exchange that foreshadowed what was yet to come. ODU grew continuously frustrated and the Hilltoppers went into the locker room at halftime with a 52-14 lead.

Then, the inevitable occurred a little bit after the midway point of the third quarter.

A good, old fashioned, bench-clearing brawl. Now we know we’re not supposed to endorse this kind of stuff, but dammit this is what conference football is all about. Two division teams that don’t like hate each other, competing for a first place spot with high emotion and high intensity.

It began as WKU receiver Taywan Taylor scurried out of bonds and into the ODU sideline. His counterpart, receiver Quin Jernighan, kept driving his block into ODU cornerback Jamez Brickhouse well after the play was over, and both Taylor and Brickhouse opted to get in the last shove before returning to the huddle. It was Jerighan’s shove, however, that appeared to tick off ODU’s bench, and within seconds the field erupted into chaos.

The fight took a turn for the worst when Hilltoppers’ starting running back Anthony Wales connected a punch on Monarchs’ safety Christian Byrum (right side of the screen) that sent his helmet flying off of his head and blood dripping out of his mouth. Immediately, a swarm of ODU players surrounded Wales which in effect cleared WKU’s bench on the opposite side of the field. Punches were flying left and right as players grabbed and shoved one another while exchanging what I would assume to be some heavy vulgarity.

It was awesome.

Coaches, referees, and officers panicked in attempt to clear the scuffle, but their efforts were rather futile as there was just too much madness for the men to contain. A good 40 seconds and ten penalty flags later, the melee simmered down to a stop.

The officiating crew, uncertain on how to reprimand the players, decided to dish out a blanket penalty. Every single player on both teams was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and ODU defensive back Jamshyer McUmber was ejected — wrongfully I might add.

The end result was handed down from the league office on Monday: both Byrum and Wales were handed a half-game suspension for their upcoming games.

I think it goes without argument that half-game suspensions are about the stupidest punishment in college football, but it is what it is. Probably the best possible outcome those guys could’ve hoped for, though.

During the postgame presser, both head coaches pointed their fingers at the other’s team.

Hilltoppers’ head coach Jeff Brohm said “I don’t know all the details, but I do know it happened on their sideline. I can’t sit here and tell you I know for sure certain things happened, but it’s just unfortunate that on their sideline it would turn into a complete melee... We were fortunate enough to jump out on them early and big and I’m sure they weren’t very happy about it, so that may have played into it.”

Monarch’s head coach Bobby Wilder took his own jab: “As you know, we rarely have personal fouls on our team. We’re one of the least penalized teams in the league. They were one of the most penalized coming in.”

Shots fired. This should be a good one to watch for a while after this.

ODU was handed their first conference loss and WKU further asserted that it still owns the eastern stronghold, but which team won the fight can be debated either way.

It wasn’t quite as good bad as FIU-Miami, but it was one of the best brawls college football has seen in a while.

Long live Conference USA.

No players were seriously injured in this fight. Underdog Dynasty believes in good sportsmanship and does not approve nor endorse player’s actions involving this melee.