Dallas, Tx–Freshman Cory Munson kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give Western Kentucky a 23-20 victory over Western Michigan in the First Responder Bowl on Monday on the campus of SMU.
Munson tied the game at 20-20 by connecting on a 31-yard field goal with 1:36 to play in the game. That left plenty of time for WMU, and it looked like the Broncos would be in position to win the game after Jon Wassink found DaShon Bussell for a diving 34-yard catch down the left sideline.
A few plays later, WMU faced a third-and-1 from the WKU 28-yard line. The Broncos ran a read-option play, Wassink faked a handoff and had plenty of real estate to run in front of him. But Wassink got tripped over, resulting in a two-yard loss.
Western Kentucky (9-4) drove 36 yards in 27 seconds before Munson kicked his third field goal in four tries. The game appeared to head to overtime when Ty Storey’s desperation last-minute heave was knocked down by the Broncos. But WMU was hit with a five-yard defensive substitution penalty and Munson was awarded an untimed down after a video review determined that Western Michigan had 12 players on the field as it switched between its field-goal unit and regular defense.
“We knew we could make the kick when we saw they had 12 men on the field and might get penalized,” first-year Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton said. “I wanted our true freshman Cory Munson to get a chance to kick it, and he did. It was a great kick.”
Thiago Kapps’ 20-yard field goal with 4:58 to play in the contest gave the Broncos (7-6) a 20-17 lead.
“When they have their Hail Mary team and then the kickoff team and then the Hail Mary team out there, you have to stand over the ball and give us time to change,” Western Michigan coach Tim Lester said, “and it didn’t happen.”
Kapps’ field goal, his second of the game, capped a 62-yard drive that took 5:35 after the Hilltoppers had tied the score on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Storey to Lucky Jackson with 10:40 to go. Jackson had 17 catches for 148 yards and was named the game’s most valuable player.
The Broncos’ other touchdowns came on a 6-yard pass from Jon Wassink to DaShon Bussell halfway through the third quarter and an 88-yard interception return by Kareem Ali in the first half’s waning minutes.
Storey, a graduate transfer from Arkansas, threw a 17-yard pass to Jahcour Pearson in the second quarter for the Hilltoppers’ other touchdown.
With the win, the Hilltoppers finishes the year with a 9-4 record in its first year with Tyson Helton as head coach.