Western Kentucky’s final drive ended when Jakes’ pass intended for Jack Doyle fell incomplete.
Petrino, the Hilltoppers’ coach-in-waiting, was expected to be at Ford Field watching his new team, but a snowstorm forced him to scrap those plans. Western Kentucky started aggressively.
Down 7-0, the Hilltoppers ran a flea-flicker on their first play from scrimmage, with Antonio Andrews running to his right, then tossing the ball back to Jakes, who found Rico Brown for a 70-yard gain.
Two plays later, Jakes scored on a 6-yard run to tie it.
Central Michigan answered with a 73-yard drive that ended with Andrew Flory’s 29-yard touchdown reception, his second of the quarter.
The offenses settled down a bit for the rest of the quarter. Both teams were backed up by a pair of terrific punts. Hendrix Brakefield’s 74-yarder pinned Central Michigan at its own 5, but Richie Hogan flipped the field position with a punt that sailed past Andrews and bounced back to the Western Kentucky 12. The 82-yard effort was returned only 4 yards.
David Harman’s 50-yard field goal put the Chippewas up 17-7, but Jakes threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Doyle, with the tight end making a one-handed catch to pull Western Kentucky within three.
The TD pass was the 51st for Jakes, breaking a tie with Justin Haddix atop the school’s career list.
Harman had a field goal blocked later in the half, and although the Chippewas were in range for another attempt in the final minute, Radcliff was sacked and fumbled. He was able to recover, but the last few seconds of the half ticked off.
Western Kentucky took a 21-17 lead in the third on a 1-yard scoring run by Kadeem Jones, which capped an 80-yard drive that used 9:23.
Andrews rushed for 119 yards, but he fell short of the 274 all-purpose yards he needed to break the single-season record of 3,250 set by Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988. Andrews, a junior, had 184 all-purpose yards to finish the season at 3,161.
“I fell short this year, but I’ll be going for that record again next year,” he said.
Dowling had a chance to make up for that mistake early in the third quarter, but with his team down 17-14, he dropped an interception near midfield that he could have easily returned for a touchdown.
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