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Western Kentucky Uses Ground Game To Clip Florida Atlantic in 35-19 Victory

Ace Wales and D'Andre Ferby were key in helping the Tops defeat Florida Atlantic, but every touchdown for WKU came through the air as the Tops had to over come a bit of a slow start and two different deficits to stay perfect in C-USA play.

Brandon Doughty caught a touchdown pass. This is not a drill.
Brandon Doughty caught a touchdown pass. This is not a drill.
Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

What if I told you that Western Kentucky used a better second half to help propel them to a ninth-straight conference victory in a 35-19 revenge-win over Florida Atlantic.

No, that isn't the promo read for an upcoming 30-for-30 film, it's what happened in Bowling Green on homecoming as the Tops, who looked outplayed for much of the first half by FAU, was able to overcome a ton of penalties (seven for 85 yards) and two different deficits (by seven and three points - not much, but still) to enter the bye week with a 8-2 mark.

FAU not only stalled WKU's opening drive at midfield, but was able to turn their first drive of the day into points when Jaquez Johnson found Jenson Stoshak from 19-yards out to give the Owls a 7-0 lead.

Brandon Doughty led his offense right back in one of the most methodical drives you might ever see Western Kentucky run. It took 16(!) plays to cover 75 yards and took 7:22 off the clock (leading to zero first-quarter points for the Tops), but Doughty was able to find Taywan Taylor for the first of two scores, this one from just four yards out, to tie the game at 7-7.

Following a Greg Joseph 20-yard field goal to give the Owls a 10-7 lead, Doughty connected with Taylor once again to give WKU a 14-10 lead, this time from 44-yards out (on a three play drive that took just 1:01 to go 56 yards - that's the Hilltopper offense we've come to expect) on a catch that looked pretty awesome at Smith Stadium, but until I watched this replay, I didn't realize just how great this catch was.

Bravo, Taywan. Unfortunately, Taylor was slow to get up after making the catch, but that was the touchdown that gave WKU a lead that they'd never relinquish.

The Owls didn't just go away, however, as they kicked a pair of field goals in the second quarter and Johnson found Ralph Leonard for a touchdown in the third quarter to make it 21-19, but a failed two-point conversion kept it a two-point game.

With the last play of the third quarter, the Hilltoppers scored to pull away at 28-19, but did so in a very unique fashion. I'll let twitter show you.

Yes. That is Brandon Doughty, one of college football's greatest touchdown passers, CATCHING a touchdown pass. Hilltoppers beat writer Zach Greenwell laid some knowledge on us following the feat.

That'd make a hell of a trivia question as to who the other eight are.

Anyway, Doughty found Antwane Grant for a three yard touchdown to end the scoring, leading to the 35-19 final.

It's a shame that we haven't talked about, arguably, the key player in the WKU offense today because he didn't find his way into the end zone. Especially in the second half, the Tops used the running game to their success, and it nearly saw two 100-yard rushers out of it. Ace Wales, who continues to improve week by week, tallied 135 yards on 17 touches and D'Andre Ferby logged 92 yards on just 12 touches - but neither were able to pass the pylon.

WKU held FAU to 359 yards of total offense - 174 on the ground and 185 through the air - while logging 509 of their own. Doughty was laser sharp, going 24/29 through the air for 273 yards and four touchdown passes (plus the receiving touchdown) and an interception.

Much like Old Dominion tried to do last week, FAU dominated the possession game, holding the ball for 31:40 to WKU's 28:20, and the Tops only had 13:59 of possession through three quarters.

FAU came out faster and more physical than WKU, and actually looked like the better team after the opening two quarters, but the Tops were able to find away to put things together to head to the bye week on a positive.

Two games are left. Hard to believe, but it looks like WKU is well on their way to meeting those seemingly-impossible expectations set for them by, well, everyone before the season began.