WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard on P.J. Fleck: "He loves being a Bronco." Tony Paul, The Detroit News
Detroit — Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard had been waiting 20 years to win a Mid-American Conference football championship and her dream finally came true Friday night at Ford Field.
Beauregard couldn’t be happier because a MAC title game record crowd of 45,615 — mostly WMU fans — watched the No. 13 Broncos (13-0) defeat Ohio 29-23.
“I don’t know if they get how special undefeated is, but it doesn’t just happen. You look all over the country and years and years of history and you just don’t find it,” Beauregard said. “It’s been a magical season, and just an incredibly passionate group of student-athletes that love one another, are family, are undefeated and getting ready for a bowl game.”
So does Beauregard feel the Broncos deserve to play in the Cotton Bowl, being the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five?
“We belong in the Cotton Bowl,” Beauregard said.
And of the Broncos fans?
“I couldn’t be more proud of Bronco nation,” Beauregard said. “I will tell you for years we’ve tried to be in this game. We’ve had games over here. We’ve played in the Little Caesars Bowl (2011), played Illinois here (win in 2008), but never seen anything like a group of Broncos come out for so much pride and really be here on behalf of this group of student-athletes to support them and our program and our university, so extremely proud.”
Hampton sets MAC title game record
WMU freshman kicker Butch Hampton knelt down in front of the Broncos fans just outside the end zone in prayer, in shock or maybe just trying to get a couple of seconds by himself after setting a MAC championship game record by kicking five field goals.
Hampton accounted for the Broncos’ first nine points, kicking field goals of 42, 27 and 21 yards before Zach Terrell found Corey Davis for a 70-yard TD to open a 16-7 lead with 7:49 left in the first half.
Hampton also kicked field goals of 33 yards for a 26-13 lead in the third, and a 34-yarder with 1:24 left in the game. He has now made 18 of 23 for the season.
“No comment,” Hampton said, knowing no WMU true freshman is supposed to talk with reporters. “No comment, I’m just telling you row the boat and give glory to God.”
“He did what he did, he did his job and that’s why this is such an elite win,” redshirt junior linebacker Caleb Bailey said of Hampton.
Bailey wasn’t bad himself, getting in on five tackles, including one tackle for loss while also getting a quarterback hurry.