Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) -- Western Kentucky dominated the first half against visiting Louisiana-Lafayette but went into the locker room tied at 13 thanks to some untimely turnovers. The Ragin' Cajuns then controlled the second half for a 37-20 victory, dropping Western to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Sun Belt.
The biggest turnover came midway through the second quarter with the Toppers up 10-0. A 4th-and-goal play-action rollout from the Louisiana-Lafayette 1 turned into a 99-yard interception return by the Cajuns' Al Riles. A fumble on the next possession led to another Lafayette touchdown and a total negation of WKU's yardage advantage in the first half. They outgained the Rajin' Cajuns 349 to 81.
"That's a tough loss for us," said head coach Bobby Petrino. "We were in control in the first half and then we had a fourth and one and it was a bad call. The blame goes strictly to me. We had an opportunity to either kick a field goal or run the ball in, and I decided to run a play-action pass. You know, we throw an interception and he takes it back for a touchdown. That kind of changed the game around. We were moving it, we came right back and we moved it. We kind of got the ball stolen from us there on another fourth down so it ends up 13-10. And then our offense drove down and got three points right before the half. I thought that'd give us some momentum. When we came out in the second half, we got outplayed. They were more physical on the offensive front. They took the first drive and went eight minutes and ran the ball. We still had another chance. We had another chance on a fourth and one and we made a mistake. It hurt us. Tip your hat off to Lafayette. They did a good job in the second half of controlling the line of scrimmage and pounding their running backs at us. We weren't able to make plays when it was the critical time in the game."
ULL ran for 198 of its 254 yards in the second half and turned a fourth Topper turnover into a third touchdown. WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty was 18-of-23 for 260 yards and a touchdown, but his two interceptions gave him twelve on the season, the most in the FBS.
"They (the turnovers) were the difference in the game," said Petrino. "There's no question they were the difference in the game. You can't win games when you throw interceptions for touchdowns and get outcompeted for balls in the air."
"There are a lot of chances there. We had a lot of chances, but we weren't able to make the plays. We have to be able to make the plays and it's just not a good job of finding ways to win the game."
A second league loss will make it very difficult to compete for a conference championship, but there is still plenty to play for as Petrino noted.
"We go back to work. That's what you do. We'll get back in here tomorrow and watch the video and be very critical of it. We'll go out and run and work our young guys. We'll put it behind us and we'll start preparing for the Troy game. It's disappointing to me because we knew going in we had to win all our home games in order to win the conference and we didn't do that. We still have opportunities ahead of us to win enough games to get to a bowl game and send the seniors out with a good year."
Antonio Andrews ran for 154 yards and a touchdown for WKU. The Toppers are back in action Saturday, October 26th when they host Troy.
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