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Western Michigan football team falls 23-20 to Western Kentucky in First Responder Bowl

Western Michigan running back LeVante Bellamy, left, tries to avoid the tackle of Western Kentucky’s Devon Key during the second half of the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Monday. (AP photo)

DALLAS (AP) — Western Kentucky freshman kicker Cory Munson ran onto the field, then off and then back on. All of that before kicking a career-long 52-yard field goal with no time left after a rules review moved him five yards closer to the goal posts.

And Munson, who’d sliced a 29-yarder wide right on the final play of the first half, closed the game with the kick that gave the Hilltoppers a 23-20 victory over Western Michigan in the First Responder Bowl on Monday.

“I was just breathing and saying to myself: ‘You got this. Don’t worry about the last kick. You got this one. Just stay calm,’ and I just swung through it,” Munson said. “Next thing I knew, it was up there.”

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.

Munson had tied the score at 20 on a 31-yarder with 1:36 to play. He also kicked a 26-yarder.

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.