Lucky Jackson

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Illegal substitution penalty helps Western Kentucky win First Responder Bowl on walk-off field goal

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The 2018 First Responder Bowl never happened. The 2019 First Responder Bowl will never be forgotten.

Okay, maybe not, but freshman Cory Munson booted a 52-yard field goal as time expired to lift Western Kentucky to a 23-20 win over Western Michigan in Dallas.

After a 10-10 first half in which WKU quarterback Ty Storey through a pick six and Munson missed a 29-yarder at the halftime gun, Western Michigan took its first lead on a 6-yard Jon Wassink pass to DaShon Bussell, capping a 10-play, 90-yard drive.

WKU (9-4) tied the game with 10:40 to play on a 5-yard strike from Storey to Lucky Jackson, and the teams then exchanged long field goal drives — a 12-play drive that put WMU ahead 20-17 with 4:58 left, then a 9-play drive that tied the game at 20 with 1:36 remaining.

Western Michigan (7-6) then moved in position to win the game with a 3rd-and-1 from the WKU 28 and 37 seconds remaining, and the Broncos had the perfect play drawn up: a zone-read keeper that gave Wassink a red carpet straight to the end zone. All he had to do was keep his feet.

He couldn’t keep his feet.

Rather than attempt a 52-yard field goal, WMU head coach Tim Lester elected to go for a 4th-and-3 from the WKU 30, but Wassink’s pass was broken up and the Hilltoppers regained possession with 27 seconds and one timeout.

Storey found running back Gaej Walker for completions of 11 and 20 yards, taking the ball from WKU’s own 30 to the WMU 39, but head Hilltopper Tyson Helton elected to try a Hail Mary with three seconds remaining rather than ask Munson to kick a 57-yard field goal.

The Hail Mary fell incomplete, but the play was a success. After protest by the WKU bench, officials reviewed the play and found 12 Broncos on the field, giving Western Kentucky one untimed down. Helton elected to kick from 52 yards, and Munson’s kick was good.

Marshall posts a league-high eight First Team All-Conference USA selections

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Florida Atlantic won the conference, but Marshall won the All-Conference USA team.

The Thundering Herd, who finished second to FAU in the East Division, placed eight players on the first team to FAU’s five. (However, three of the eight first-team Herd were specialists.)

The conference will not name individual awards until Wednesday, but here’s betting that Florida Atlantic will have the winner there. Sophomore quarterback Chris Robison threw for nearly 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns, while tight end Harrison Bryant led all FBS tight ends with 61 grabs and 1,004 yards while scoring seven touchdowns.

Western Kentucky came in third with four first-team selections.


OFFENSE

QB- Chris Robison, R-So., Florida Atlantic
QB- J’Mar Smith, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech
RB- Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
RB- Brenden Knox, R-So., Marshall
OL- Cameron Clark, R-Sr., Charlotte
OL- Junior Diaz, Gr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Brandon Walton, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Levi Brown, R-Sr., Marshall
OL- Miles Pate, R-Sr., WKU
TE- Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
WR- Jaelon Darden, Jr., North Texas
WR- Quez Watkins, R-Jr., Southern Miss
WR- Lucky Jackson, R-Sr., WKU

DEFENSE
DT- Channing Hames, R-Sr., Marshall
DT- Garrett Marino, R-Sr., UAB
DE- Alex Highsmith, R-Sr., Charlotte
DE- DeAngelo Malone, Jr., WKU
LB- Tavante Beckett, R-Jr., Marshall
LB- Blaze Alldredge, Jr., Rice
LB- Kristopher Moll, Jr., UAB
DB- Meiko Dotson, R-Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB- Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DB- Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
DB- DQ Thomas, Sr., Southern Miss

SPECIAL TEAMS
K- Justin Rohrwasser, R-Sr., Marshall
P- John Haggerty, Jr., WKU
KR- Jaylond Adams, R-So., Southern Miss
PR- Talik Keaton, Fr., Marshall
LS – Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall