Cajuns to test WKU defense

by Walter Pierce

Western Kentucky has won three consecutive games behind the improved play of its defense. But the unit faces a stiff test Tuesday night against UL Lafayette.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - Western Kentucky has won three consecutive games behind the improved play of its defense.

But the unit faces a stiff test Tuesday night against UL Lafayette.

The Hilltoppers (4-2, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) have allowed just 11.3 points per game during the streak and need another stingy performance to stop the league's top scoring offense. Junior quarterback Terrance Broadway leads a Ragin' Cajuns (3-2, 1-0) attack averaging 38 points per game.

Broadway and the Hilltoppers defense are very familiar with each other. Last season he rallied Louisiana-Lafayette from a 10-point deficit for a 31-27 win, finishing with 403 yards total offense and two touchdowns.

WKU senior defensive end Bar'ee Boyd is looking forward to avenging the loss, saying "it's on."

The game will also close the conference rivalry between the schools. WKU is moving to Conference USA next season.

"We really want to get another shot," Hilltoppers linebacker Xavius Boyd said. "We won't get another shot, so we don't want it to be as close of a game as it was (last year). We really want to try and come out and start fast."

The Hilltoppers are playing for the first time since beating Louisiana-Monroe 31-10 12 days ago. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt has emphasized staying sharp during the extended break to maintain momentum and keep Broadway from duplicating his last outing against the Hilltoppers.

Stopping Broadway could be a tall task considering the show he has been putting so far, passing for 1,153 yards, rushing for 154 and combining for 14 touchdowns. He ranks in the top 50 in five categories. He threw for a season-high 335 yards and four scores in last week's 48-24 win over Texas State last week.

"He just seems to find a way to make the play," Holt sad. "Whether it's with his legs, running for a first down or a big play or extending plays in the pocket and finding an open receiver - just running their offense, he's good."

Here are five things to watch when UL visits Western Kentucky on Tuesday:

NO STOPPING ANDREWS: Hilltoppers senior running back Antonio Andrews continues to show that he's one of the nation's premier backs. He leads the nation in all-purpose yards (223.83 per game), is second in rushing (147.0) and tied for second with nine touchdowns. He could find some openings against ULL's defense, which is allowing 167 yards per game on the ground.

BROADWAY-TO-ROBINSON: Ragin' Cajun receiver Jamal Robinson and Broadway have connected for six touchdowns. Robinson leads the team with 23 catches and 379 yards, and he and Broadway rank fifth in school history with nine TD connections.

NO DOUBTING DOUGHTY: Benched against Morgan State after throwing eight interceptions in two games, WKU junior quarterback Brandon Doughty has re-emerged as the Hilltoppers' starter. Doughty is coming off a school-record 370 yards passing in the 31-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Doughty ranks 20th in completion percentage, 25th in completions per game and 39th in passing yards.

A LOT IN COMMON: Tuesday night's nationally televised game matches Sun Belt teams thriving with similar philosophies. Both of the league's top offenses feature good running backs and ULL edges the Hilltoppers out in rushing yards per game (217.2-214.3). Both also average 30-plus points per game and rank 1-2 in total defense with WKU holding the edge there (351.0-386.4).

NEW WKU UNIFORMS: WKU will debut its new all-black uniforms with red numbers, to be worn with their standard chrome helmets.