BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Reserve running back John Howell rushed for touchdowns of 57 and 50 yards, Kriss Proctor threw two long touchdown passes and Navy sent Western Kentucky to its 16th straight home loss with a 40-14 victory Saturday night.
Howell ripped off a 50-yard touchdown run on the game's fifth play during a quick, violent downpour that hit with the kickoff. Then, with the Hilltoppers (0-2) focused on the run, Proctor floated scoring passes of 44 yards to Matt Aiken and 27 yards to Brandon Turner over a hard-biting defense to give the Midshipmen (2-0) a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.
WKU's Bobby Rainey became the sixth Hilltoppers running back to reach 3,000 yards rushing in his career while leading a brief first-half rally, scoring from 13 yards on the next drive. But Navy answered with its fifth quick-strike scoring drive of five or fewer plays in the first half when Aaron Santiago punched in a 4-yard scoring run for a 27-7 halftime lead.
It was Rainey's seventh straight 100-yard rushing game and he can tie the school record next week against Indiana State.
The Hilltoppers' inability to come up with any other offense besides Rainey did them in again, however. Rainey was mostly hemmed in when the game was close except on WKU's first scoring drive when he rushed for 50 of the Hilltoppers' 71 yards, then tightroped down the left sideline before a scoring dive that just caught the pylon. He added a 1-yard scoring dive late in the third quarter.
WKU had just 26 yards passing in the first half, however, and quarterback Kawaun Jakes was 7 of 12 for 51 yards. He had an interception and a fumble, giving him six turnovers in two games, and was pulled early in the second half for backup Brandon Doughty. The Hilltoppers finished with 277 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, Navy had little trouble diversifying its offense, alternating a dominating option attack led by fullback Alex Teich with Proctor's timely passes. Teich finished with 102 yards on 15 carries, and his 38-yard run late in the second quarter set up Santiago's score.
Proctor had a third touchdown pass knocked away early in the third quarter before Howell struck again with a run around right end for a weaving, 57-yard score that made it 33-7 early in the third quarter.
Howell finished with 113 yards rushing and Proctor, who entered the game with 12 career passes, completed 3 of 6 for 100 yards in the first half and attempted only one more in the second half. He was held below 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career as a starter, though.Comment on this story
He played sleight of hand to give the Midshipmen their quick early lead with two deceptive play-action fakes. On his pass to Aiken, Proctor got two defenders to bite and had his choice of two receivers running free behind the WKU defense, which held Kentucky to 190 yards a week earlier. His second fake allowed Turner to slip 10 yards behind the Hilltoppers for an easy score.
Navy's Ken Niumatalolo became the fastest coach to 29 victories for the Midshipmen and surpassed Paul Johnson's record of 28 wins in his first four seasons. The Midshipmen are 24-2 when scoring first in Niumatalolo's tenure.