Western Kentucky takes down Southern Miss 42-17
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) Western Kentucky's offensive line paved the way for 369 yards rushing on Saturday night as the Hilltoppers beat Southern Mississippi 42-17.
Antonio Andrews accounted for 136 rushing yards, 74 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Freshman Leon Allen rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
It was the 28th time Western Kentucky has had two 100-yard rushers, and the first time since 2008.
"Whenever you can get two 100-yard rushers, (the offensive line) is doing a great job," coach Willie Taggart said. "Those guys were physical, and they kept coming off the sideline saying, `Coach, keep running it.'"
Western Kentucky is 3-1 for the first time since 2008. Southern Miss is 0-3 for the first time since 1976.
Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes threw touchdown passes of 25, 36 and 2 yards. He finished the game 12 of 18 for 172 yards.
The Hilltoppers amassed 560 yards of total offense while playing in front of a crowd of 23,252 - the biggest in school history.
"It's good to see the community come out and support us," defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen said. "We're on the way to do big things this season, and they're going to be behind us even more now."
While Western Kentucky ran and threw the ball with ease, the Hilltoppers' defense held Southern Miss to 264 yards.
Third-string quarterback Ricky Lloyd was Southern Miss' leading passer, going 4 for 5 for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Campbell started and went 2 for 5 for 15 yards before getting knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a stinger in his neck.
His backup, Anthony Alford, was 2 for 7 for 14 yards.
The Hilltoppers scored the game's first 14 points, and they scored the next 28 after a Golden Eagles field goal.
Western Kentucky set the tone on its first drive, marching 71 yards in nine plays before Allen scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
After forcing a three-and -out on Southern Miss' first possession, Western Kentucky marched 66 yards for another touchdown.
This time it was Jakes hitting Andrews on a 25-yard wheel route for his first touchdown of the day.
Southern Miss kicker Corey Acosta, who had missed a 38-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter, nailed a 47-yard kick to cut Western Kentucky's lead to 14-3 in the second quarter.
But the Hilltoppers answered when Jakes found receiver Willie McNeal in the end zone on a 36-yard touchdown pass.
Western Kentucky kept adding to the lead, getting a 36-yard touchdown run up the middle from Andrews early in the third quarter. That put the Hilltoppers ahead 28-3.
Taggart said his squad ran the "iso" running play up the middle at least 20 times on Saturday in an ode to former Hilltoppers coach Jack Harbaugh.
Harbaugh, whose sons John and Jim coach the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, was honored before the game with the dedication of the new "Jack and Jackie Harbaugh Stadium Club" at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
"I told our team, `We're going to run Coach Harbaugh's play tonight,'" Taggart said. "Sure enough, those guys took pride in running it."
Jakes' final touchdown pass of the night, a 2-yarder to fullback Kadeem Jones, allowed him to tie Taggart's school record 47 total touchdowns.
A 1-yard dive by Hilltoppers backup fullback Nick Baisch later in the quarter pushed the Western Kentucky lead to 42-3.
Southern Miss came back with a 13-yard touchdown pass by third-string quarterback Lloyd to Tyre Bracken. Western Kentucky standout safety Jonathan Dowling was ejected from the game after hitting Bracken in the head after the catch.
Per Sun Belt Conference rules, Dowling must sit out the next game, which is a Sun Belt opener against defending league champ Arkansas State on Saturday night in Jonesboro, Ark.
Official word of a suspension by the league or appeal by Western Kentucky should come in the next few days.
Updated September 22, 2012