DALLAS — Freshman Cory Munson kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal with no time left after a rules review to give Western Kentucky a 23-20 victory over Western Michigan in the First Responder Bowl on Monday.
The Hilltoppers (9-4) drove 36 yards in 27 seconds before Munson kicked his third field goal in four tries. The game appeared headed to overtime when Ty Storey’s desperation heave was knocked down by the Broncos. But the Broncos were 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.”
Munson had tied the score at 20 on a 31-yarder with 1:36 to play. He also kicked a 26-yarder and missed from 29.
Thiago Kapps’ 20-yard field goal with 4:58 to play gave Western Michigan (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 Western Kentucky 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.
Music City Bowl
Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28: Micale Cunningham threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 81 more, and the Cardinals capped coach Scott Satterfield’s debut season by beating the Bulldogs.
Louisville (8-5) rallied from a 14-point deficit by scoring 31 straight to finish their big turnaround from 2-10 last season. Louisville also finally beat Mississippi State on the field for the first time in six tries, though the series now is tied 3-3 thanks to a pair of forfeits by the Bulldogs in the 1970s.
Mississippi State (6-7) had been trying to finish the season with a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2013 and only the third time since the end of World War II. Instead, the Bulldogs go home having lost a bowl game in each of coach Joe Moorhead’s two seasons.
California 35, Illinois 20: Chase Garbers threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Golden Bears past the Fighting Illini.
Christopher Brown Jr. ran for 120 yards on 20 carries, and Makai Polk caught five passes for a season-high 105 yards as Cal (8-5) won its first bowl game since 2015.
Brandon Peters passed for 273 yards and one touchdown for Illinois (6-7) in his return after sitting out the regular-season finale with a concussion. Peters, who was shaken up again after diving out of bounds following a scramble late in the fourth quarter, completed 22 of 37 passes.
The offensive MVP of the game, Garbers completed 22 of 31 passes for 272 yards with TD passes of 4, 3, 2 and 6 yards. He also scored on quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line in the second quarter. The Bears set a season-high in scoring.