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Western Michigan falls in final minute at Ball State

Tim Lester says Broncos season likely over
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Posted at 10:10 AM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 10:10:17-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Mid-American Conference west division championship was on the line on Saturday afternoon in Muncie, Indiana.

(4-1) Western Michigan traveled to (4-1) Ball State with the winner claiming a spot in Friday's Mid-American Conference championship game at Ford Field.

Western Michigan falls short at Ball State

Despite rain throughout the evening and morning, it was a beautiful day to begin the game as the Broncos hoped to play for their first MAC Championship since 2016 with a win.

Western Michigan would get off to a solid start after a Thiago Kapps field goal put the Broncos up 3-0 and on the second possession of the game, they'd start driving once again.

However, in the redzone and hoping to increase the lead, a snap went high above the head of quarterback Kaleb Eleby and would be recovered by Ball State, leading to an eventual touchdown to put the Cardinals in front, 6-3 after a missed extra point.

Sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby played well in the first half, however, connecting with D'Wayne Eskridge for the 24-yard score and just before the half, hit Jaylen Hall for a five-yard score to give the Broncos a 20-13 lead at intermission.

After a bit of a defensive stalemate in the second half, it'd come down to special teams.

Tied 27-27, senior Thiago Kapps trotted back out to attempt a 28-yard field goal to give Western Michigan the lead in the final minutes but the kick would sail wide right, keeping it tied.

With just 29 seconds remaining, Ball State kicker Jack Knight would convert the 22-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 30-27 lead.

On the final play of the game, Western Michigan was left with a prayer from its own territory. Quarterback Kaleb Eleby would throw a screen pass and chaos would ensue with several laterals and backwards passes.

The ball would ultimately hit the turf where both teams assumed it would be recovered and end the game. However, as Ball State celebrated on the field, Western Michigan's Skyy Moore ended up with the live ball and took it the rest of the way to the endzone with the officials signaling a touchdown.

After the play, the officials would meet and determine there were several flags on the play, including both teams entering the field of play and unfortunately for the Broncos, an illegal forward lateral.

The penalty would end the game with Ball State taking the victory and MAC West division title, 30-27 the final.

The Broncos end the regular season at 4-2 overall and head coach Tim Lester, when asked after the game, stated in all likelihood the team's season is over and the chance of a bowl game is slim.