Monday marked the tenth SERVPRO First Responder Bowl featuring the sixteenth meeting all-time between Western Kentucky and Western Michigan.
It’s a matchup the college football world hadn’t seen since November 1st, 1947, and I can assure that out of the sixteen meetings, Monday’s became the most controversial in the Hilltoppers 23-20 win over the Broncos.
With three seconds remaining in regulation, whistles blew the play dead, and referee Jeremy Parker originally announced there was no illegal substitution flag on Western Michigan. After announced, the Hilltoppers looked like they were attempting a 57-yard field goal, only to bring the offense back out.
On the snap, Western Kentucky quarterback, Ty Storey, launched a Hail Mary to the end zone that fell incomplete. However, officials went to replay to discover the Western Michigan Broncos had too many men on the field. The yardage got knocked off, and regulation continued on an untimed down. Therefore, the Hilltoppers brought out freshman kicker Cory Munson, whose longest field goal of the year was 48 yards to attempt a 52-yard field goal. Munson knocked it through perfectly as first-year head coach Tyson Helton and his team celebrated a bowl victory.
“We knew we could make the kick when we say they had 12 men on the field and might get penalized.” Helton said after the game. “I wanted our true freshman Cory Munson to get a chance to kick it, and he did.”
The hero, Cory Muson, talked after the game about the strange and magical series of events. “It was pretty crazy. I was off and on, off and on thinking I was going out there kicking it. I was just staying calm, breathing; people were talking to me saying you got this. Next thing I knew [the ball] was up there.”
Storey finished the day completing 35 of 51 passes with 358 yards. Storey’s fifty-one passes became a season-high along with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was a late first-half pick-six by Western Michigan senior, Kareem Ali, that went for 88 yards, the longest in Western Michigan history for a bowl game. The pick-six tied the game at ten at the break, putting a damper on a dominated second quarter in which the Hilltoppers outgained the Broncos 241-27.
Western Kentucky received production out of their primary wide receiver, Lucky Jackson, on Monday. Storey targeted Jackson twenty-two times, which he caught seventeen passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. Monday marked the fourth straight win for Western Kentucky, a program that won three games a year ago.
“We went out with a bang.” Redshirt Senior Lucky Jackson said after the game. “We stuck together throughout this season. This season has been a testament for this brotherhood that we are creating and this bond we had, sticking together through adversity and tough situations.”
For the Western Michigan Broncos, their top stud running back LeVante Bellamy (top-ranked running back in the MAC conference for the 2020 NFL draft) could not get going for the first three quarters. Bellamy rushed for thirty-three yards through three quarters and finished the day with sixty rushing yards.
It was the lowest rushing total since September 7th at Michigan State (44). Also, Broncos quarterback Jon Wassink completed just over fifty percent of his passes despite completing a solid fourth quarter, completing seven of ten throws.
Western Kentucky’s win celebrates their eighth bowl win in school history, and their fourth bowl win in six years. On the downside, Monday’s bowl loss marks a string of nine losses in ten bowl appearances for the Western Michigan Broncos.