WKU Football’s redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty and redshirt sophomore defensive back Branden Leston headlined a handful of standout performances in the Hilltoppers’ 67-66 overtime win over previously undefeated and No.19/24 Marshall last week and the duo has picked up plenty of national and Conference USA recognition for their performances.
Doughty, who was named a Manning Award Star of the Week and the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, connected on 34-of-50 passes for 491 yards and set an FBS record for touchdown passes in a road game with eight against the Herd’s ninth ranked passing defense. The national leader in touchdown passes (44) and yards (4,344) became just the eighth quarterback in FBS history to toss eight touchdowns in a game and the third to accomplish the feat against a nationally ranked opponent.
He shredded Marshall’s C-USA leading defense for 214 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter alone and helped the WKU offense generate 738 yards against a Marshall defense that entered the contest ranked 14th nationally in total defense. With Doughty at the helm WKU only trailed once in the entire contest and that was in overtime, where he responded with a 25-yard touchdown strike to Jared Dangerfield before tossing the game-winning two-point conversion to Willie McNeal.
The Manning Award Star of the Week and C-USA accolades mark the fourth time this season Doughty has picked up honors from both organizations. He was also recognized as an Honorable Mention National Quarterback Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) on Monday. The awards add on to Doughty’s stellar season in which he has established 12 WKU single-season, single-game and career records while ranking Top 10 nationally in nine different statistical categories.
Leston was tabbed the National Defensive Player and Defensive Back of the Week by the CFPA after intercepting Marshall’s senior quarterback Rakeem Cato three times to set up 21 Hilltopper points. Leston racked up eight tackles and tied an FBS high for interceptions in a game this season with his three off Cato, who entered the contest with eight interceptions and was a 2014 Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm semifinalist. He became the sixth player in WKU history to record three interceptions in one game and the first since Jonathan Dowling had three against Kentucky on Sept. 15, 2012.
With Doughty nabbing C-USA Offensive Player of the Week honors, WKU extended its league-high honorees to seven this season. Doughty has collected four offensive player of the week accolades, junior defensive back Wonderful Terry has won two defensive awards while junior running back Leon Allen holds one league honor.
Allen also played a huge role in WKU’s win over Marshall, racking up 237 rushing yards and finding the end zone twice. The bruising back also tallied 51 receiving yards to finish with 288 yards from scrimmage and he was selected as a CFPA Honorable Mention National Running Back and All-Purpose Performer of the Week for his efforts.
Redshirt junior tight end Tyler Higbee caught three of Doughty’s eight touchdowns to tie an FBS high by a tight end this year and he too was recognized by the CFPA as a Honorable Mention National Tight End Performer of the Week. Higbee recorded career highs in catches (6), yards (99) and score three touchdowns in the first half to spark a 49-point first half in the win.