ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Even though Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty has been putting up huge numbers so far this season, he was initially willing to stick to shorter passes and let his running backs help carry the offense against Navy.
Doughty, however, eventually got into a groove and put together another stellar performance, completing 38 of 54 passes for 387 yards with a pair touchdowns to lead Western Kentucky to a 36-27 victory over the Midshipmen on Saturday.
Doughty, who entered leading the nation in passing yards per game (486.3) and total offense per game (480.7), also ran for a score and had an interception. Leon Allen had 102 yards on 17 carries for the Hilltoppers (2-2).
“Those guys have a bend-don’t-break defense,” Doughty said. “They are really disciplined and don’t bite on double-moves. That’s what we stressed this week, trying to stay patient. The time would come when I had to throw it over the top.”
Western Kentucky finished with 551 yards of total offense.
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran 121 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns and a fumble. Reynolds has scored in 12 consecutive games, which is also the longest current streak in the nation.
“It’s probably my worst game here,” Reynolds said. “I missed a lot of guys when they were open. Just have to go back to the drawing board and get it together.”
Noah Copeland had 104 yards on just 5 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown in the second quarter for the Midshipmen (2-3). Navy amassed 412 yards rushing.
Navy’s Ryan Williams-Jenkins suffered a neck injury returning a kickoff in the second quarter and had to be carted off the field. No other details were immediately available.
The Midshipmen opened a 21-13 lead on the first possession of the second half with a 7-play, 77-yard drive. Sophomore Toneo Gulley got his first career touchdown with a 19-yard run. However, Western Kentucky responded on the next possession with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Doughty to Jared Dangerfield, but failed on the two-point the conversion.
The Hilltoppers then took the lead, 22-21, on a 33-yard field goal by Garrett Schwettman with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. Doughty then had a 1-yard keeper with 6:52 left in the game to pad the margin.
Reynolds pulled the Midshipmen within 29-27 with a 2-yard run with 4:31 left in the game, but he was intercepted by Prince Charles Iworah attempting the 2-point conversion. Navy got the ball back with 1:36 remaining, but Keenan was intercepted again by Wonderful Terry, who ran 43 yards for the touchdown.
“He kind of stared his receiver down,” Terry said. “Coach always tells me don’t get on my back-peddle too early. I was able to have a great break on the ball and take it for six.”
Western Kentucky beat Navy 19-7 last season.
After Schwettman made a 37-yard field goal for the Hilltoppers, the Midshipmen responded with a 4-yard TD run by Reynolds for a 7-3 lead with 2:05 left in the first quarter.
Navy opened a 14-6 lead midway through the second quarter on the 41-yard run by Copeland. However, a fumble by Reynolds on his own 24 set up a 13-yard touchdown from Doughty to Willie McNeal that pulled Western Kentucky to within a point with 9:32 left in the half.
Navy has eight turnovers through five games this season after committing just 10 all last year. Opponents have scored 27 points off those turnovers.
“We had lots of breakdowns,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We stubbed ourselves in the foot with either a penalty or turnover. We stopped ourselves.”
Western Kentucky drove to the Navy 8 in the closing seconds of the half, but Doughty was intercepted by Daniel Gonzales to end the threat.
“We knew going into it on both sides of the ball that this was a good football team and they played some good competition,” Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm said about Navy. “We knew we were going to have to play 60 minutes to win. We continued to battle and fight. They gave up some big plays, but a lot of people have against that offense. They found a way to make plays when they needed to.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)