Bowling Green, Ky. — Following Saturday’s 32-31 overtime win at Kentucky on Saturday, three members of the Western Kentucky University football team earned Sun Belt Conference Player-of-the-Week honors Monday morning.
Junior running back Antonio Andrews was selected by the league’s media panel as the Offensive Player of the Week, while sophomore safety Jonathan Dowling and junior punter Hendrix Brakefield earned Defensive and Special Teams Player-of-the-Week accolades, respectively. This marks the first time since joining the league in 2009 that WKU has swept the weekly conference awards.
This was not the only honor to come Andrews’ way on Monday. He was also named to the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll by the Louisville Sports Commission. The Paul Hornung Award, presented by Texas Roadhouse, is awarded annually to the most versatile player in major college football. Andrews set new career highs for rushing attempts (34), rushing yards (125), rushing touchdowns (3) and all-purpose yards (233) in the victory at UK. His third touchdown came in overtime to pull WKU within a point. Then, on a two-point conversion try, Andrews took a lateral from quarterback Kawaun Jakes and rolled to his right. The former high school QB then threw back left to a wide open Jakes who ran into the end zone for the game-winning score.
Through three weeks of the season, Andrews ranked sixth in the nation in all-purpose yards, averaging 197.67 per game. In addition to these two honors, Andrews was selected as the College Sports Madness National and Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Sunday, and was picked by the College Football Performance Awards as an honorable mention all-purpose performer.
Dowling became just the fifth Hilltopper in history to record at least three interceptions in a game, and the first to do so since Carl Brazley had three picks against East Tennessee State on Sept. 30, 1978. Jim Pickens holds the school record with four INTs against Eastern Kentucky in 1948. Dowling also had an interception in the season opener against Austin Peay, currently placing him in a tie for the top spot nationally with four picks already this season. His efforts against UK also earned him a honorable mention defensive back honor from the College Football Performance Awards.
While Andrews and Dowling were honored by the Sun Belt for the first time in their careers, Brakefield is now a two-time Special Teams Player of the Week. Ironically, he also earned the honor after last season’s game against Kentucky. Brakefield averaged 40.2 yards per punt on four kicks Saturday night. He boomed his third 50-plus yard punt of the season with a 51 yarder late in the fourth quarter, and for the third time this season dropped a punt inside the opponent’s 20. The Nashville, Tenn., junior also averaged 59.2 yards on four kickoffs against the Wildcats. He is currently third in the league, averaging 41.6 yards per punt.
Start the season 2-1 for the first time since 2007, the Hilltoppers return home to Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium this Saturday (Sept. 22) to host defending Conference USA champion Southern Mississippi at 6 p.m. (CDT). At halftime, WKU will honor members of the 2002 Hilltopper team as they celebrate the 10-year anniversary of winning the I-AA National Championship. Additionally, members of the 1992 “Save the Program” team will also be recognized as it has been 20 seasons since that team represented WKU at a time when, faced with massive budget cuts, the University considered suspending the sport. Jack Harbaugh, who was the head coach of both teams, will also be on hand for a special recognition.