WKU football all-America candidates Jack Doyle and Andrew Jackson picked up right where they left off in 2011, as the duo helped the Hilltoppers to a season-opening win over Austin Peay, 49-10 Saturday night in Bowling Green.
Doyle, the senior tight end out of Indianapolis, Ind., caught five passes for 76 yards against the Governors on Saturday, leading the team in receptions for the eighth time in his last 13 games dating back to last season. Doyle reeled in a 23 and a 28-yard reception in the game, giving him 25 catches of 10 or more yards dating back to 2011. Doyle’s five receptions also give him four consecutive games with five or more catches.
Doyle anchored a WKU offensive attack on Saturday that saw the Hilltoppers rack up 596 total yards of offense – the highest total since a 605-yard output against West Virginia Tech in 2005.
With the five receptions against Austin Peay, Doyle now sits just six catches away from moving into sixth place all-time in career receptions in WKU history. Doyle’s 114 career receptions leave him just 55 catches away from breaking the WKU all-time record, set by wide receiver Jake Gaebler (2006-09), who finished his Hilltopper career with 168 grabs.
Doyle was named to the John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List for the second consecutive season in 2012, and was voted as a Preseason all-Sun Belt Conference performer by the Sun Belt Conference coaches and media prior to the 2012 season. Doyle set career highs in receptions (52) and receiving yards (614) in 2011, playing in all 12 games to lead the team in both receiving categories.
Andrew Jackson, WKU’s hard-hitting junior linebacker out of Lakeland, Fla., made plays all over the field on Saturday, much like he did in 2011. The 6-1, 265-pound linebacker had one sack, forced a fumble, posted 2.5 tackles for loss and finished with six total tackles against Austin Peay. The effort helped the Hilltopper defense limit the Governors to just 154 total yards of offense, including just 11 yards passing – the fewest number allowed by WKU since 1998.
Jackson’s 2.5 tackles for loss give him 19.5 tackles for loss in his last 13 games, including posting his fourth career multi-tackle for loss performance of his career. The sack for a loss of 11 yards gives him 4.5 sacks for his career, while also forcing his second career fumble. Jackson has now recorded six or more tackles in 12 of his 13 career starts, while also having at least one tackle for loss in 12 of his 13 starts.
Jackson, who tied for 14th nationally in tackles for loss in 2011, received national recognition during the offseason, earning a spot on the Butkus Award Preseason Watch List, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List and the Rotary Lombardi Trophy Preseason Watch List. Jackson, like Doyle, was also named 2012 Preseason all-Sun Belt Conference.
Jackson racked up 109 tackles in 2011, ranking 39th in the nation and third in the Sun Belt Conference in that category. Dating back to last season, Jackson has enjoyed home field advantage, racking up 66 total tackles in seven games played in Bowling Green, with 8.5 tackles for loss in home games.
Jackson and Doyle will now turn their attention to defending national champion Alabama next week in Tuscaloosa, Ala. WKU battled then top-ranked LSU in 2011, trailing only 14-7 at the half, before eventually falling, 42-9. Jackson had eight tackles and a sack in that contest, while Doyle caught five passes for 44 yards against the Tigers.