WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP)—Antonio Andrews, the nation’s leading rusher once recruited to play at West Point, ran for 117 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds left as Western Kentucky came back to beat Army 21-17 Saturday in the teams’ first meeting.
Brandon Doughty was 16 for 24 for 199 yards and two touchdowns for the Hilltoppers (6-4, 2-3 Sun Belt), who clinched bowl eligibility for the third straight season.
Held scoreless in the first half, Western Kentucky went up ahead on Doughty’s second touchdown pass to Willie McNeal, which made it 14-10 early in the fourth.
Army (3-7) took a 17-14 lead on Terry Baggett’s 20-yard rush with 7:03 to go, but couldn’t stop Andrews on the next drive as he ran in unscathed for the go-ahead score.
Baggett had 102 yards for the Black Knights (3-7), who saw the possibility of a bowl game slip away on senior day. Tony Giovannelli added 82 yards in the loss.
The Hilltoppers, held to a season-low 334 yards of total offense, played in New York for the first time in their 94-year history. Western Kentucky had faced another triple-option academy, Navy, in a 19-7 win earlier this season, giving up just 107 yards.
Army, the nation’s top rushing team, had more success, going for 277 yards.
Army was poised to get on the board first after Giovannelli’s 68-yard scurry up the left sideline set the Black Knights up with first-and-goal.
But Jonathan Dowling forced quarterback Angel Santiago to fumble his keeper at the 2 two plays later, and Tyree Robinson recovered to dash Army’s drive.
Western Kentucky saw its own scoring opportunity wasted early in the second when a touchdown pass to McNeal was called back on a penalty. On the next play, third-and-11 from the Army 19, Thomas Holloway intercepted Doughty’s pass in the end zone.
Still scoreless, the teams traded possession throughout the second quarter until, facing third-and-16 from the Hilltoppers’ 37, Army’s fortunes turned.
Santiago found Giovannelli over the middle for a 16-yard completion, and a targeting penalty against Robinson - who came in head-first - tacked on another 10 yards. Daniel Grochowski’s 25-yard field goal eventually capped the drive and made it 3-0 Army.
Army’s series to open the second half was going nowhere fast until punter Alex Tardieu ran 20 yards on a fourth down fake, giving the Black Knights new life at midfield. Then, Baggett took a pitch up the right sideline 28 yards, setting up Santiago’s one-yard touchdown keeper. The Black Knights led 10-0 with 10:33 remaining in the third.
The Hilltoppers finally scored with 5:35 to go in the third when Doughty found McNeal on a slant for an 11-yard touchdown, cutting it to 10-7. Western Kentucky would go up 14-0 six seconds into the fourth when Doughty side-armed another TD pass through traffic to McNeal.
But Army wasn’t done yet.
On third-and-4 from the 20, Baggett took Santiago’s pitch right, broke through traffic and skipped up the sideline for the score, capping a 15-play, 75-yard drive and giving Army a 17-14 lead with 7:03 to go.
The Black Knights, however, couldn’t put Western Kentucky away - not even after Andrews, at the end of a 16-yard run, fumbled two plays into a crucial drive with 6:35 left.
As it turned out, Western Kentucky still had a 10-play, 87-yard drive in store when it needed it most.