Old habits reared their ugly heads Tuesday night at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
Western Kentucky's three-game winning streak ended with a 37-20 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette thanks to four inexcusable turnovers and a lifeless second half.
The Hilltoppers (4-3, 1-2 Sun Belt Conference) may have lost any chance of winning their first - and last - Sun Belt Conference title in the defeat. They dominated in all facets of the first half, but had three turnovers.
In the second half, ULL (4-2, 2-0 SBC) was content to run the ball and eat the clock. They did both with ease.
WKU scored on its opening offensive possession for the sixth time in seven games with a relatively easy drive.
The Tops covered 75 yards in 4:27 and quarterback Brandon Doughty was a perfect 3 of 3 on the drive and hit Mitchell Henry on a 14-yard pass in which Doughty rolled to his right and found the junior tight end in the flat. Henry turned and raced in untouched to make it 7-0.
Doughty threw an interception to T.J. Worthy on a tipped ball on WKU next's possession, but ULL gave it right back with an Alonzo Harris fumble that Calvin Washington recovered.
Garrett Schwettman kicked a 29-yard field goal soon thereafter to make it 10-0 with 3:13 left in the opening period.
The Hilltoppers were in complete control late in the second quarter when they decided to go for a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 6:58 to play. Doughty went play-action and rolled to his right, scrambling without an open receiver.
The junior tried to force the ball in the end zone where ULL's Al Riles was waiting. The sophomore defensive back had nothing but turf in front of him, going 100 yards the other direction to cut the deficit to 10-7.
The Tops had 245 yards of offense to the Cajuns' 46, yet only held a 10-7 lead at that point.
On WKU's next possession, Doughty hit Henry on a third-and-long completion at the ULL 20, but Justin Anderson stripped Henry of the ball and took the ball to the WKU 35.
Six plays later, Alonzo Harris dove in from 1 yard out to give ULL a 13-10 lead - the extra point was no good - with 1:32 left in the half.
When the teams went into the locker room, the WKU offense held a 349-81 advantage in yardage, 20:39-9:21 in time of possession and 16-4 in first downs.
Louisiana-Lafayette opened the second half with a 15-play drive - all running plays - to the WKU 6 where it settled for a 23-yard field goal off the foot of Stephen Brauchle to give the Cajuns a 16-13 edge with 7:04 left in the third quarter.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway helped put the game out of reach with a 1-yard sneak at the end of the third quarter to make it 23-16. Broadway then threw a 24-yard TD pass to tight end Jacob Maxwell with 9:43 left to make it 30-13. That score came off yet another WKU turnover.
Antonio Andrews cut the deficit to 30-20 with a 1-yard score with 7:02 to play. It wasn't nearly enough.
Harris added a 2-yard run with 2:37 left to account for the final margin.
WKU returns to action Oct. 26 when it hosts Troy.
- For full coverage, check Wednesday's Daily News or visit bgdailynews.com