BY ANDREW WILLETT | Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State Football team improved to 2-1 on the year with a 31-25 victory over Northern Illinois Nov. 18.
It was a big win and the best performance of the season for the Cardinal defense, as the team held onto the Bronze Stalk Trophy for the second consecutive year following a dominant 10-year stretch for the Huskies over Ball State.
Following the heartbreaking season opener, Ball State has won its last two and improved with each game. Starting the year with a close loss and a close win, the score of its Week 3 game was closer than the game actually was.
Northern Illinois got out to a hot start and its offense was clicking, having scored 14 points and was on its way to a third touchdown drive in the second quarter. That’s when the Ball State defense stepped in for an offense that again got off to a slow start.
After firing a touchdown to Tyrice Richie past the coverage of Amechi Uzodinma II earlier, Ross Bowers sent a pass from the 29 yard line that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
The play started a dominant run by Ball State and its defense. The man who knotted the game up at 14 heading into the second half and earned himself Ball State’s defensive player of the game: Uzodinma.
Ball State’s defense started slow and Uzodinma was no exception, giving up the opening drive touchdown pass and trailing 14-7, but he would step up in a big way. Giving up an early touchdown, Uzodinma’s pick 6 was the first interception returned for a TD a BSU player since 2011.
With the interception taken back to the house, he switched the momentum to the Cardinals and sealed the deal as Ball State’s Defensive Player of the Week. But he fully earned it by playing some great football to close out the game.
The University High School alum recorded two solo tackles and two pass deflections to go along with the 71-yard pick-6 as the Cardinal defense held the Huskies scoreless for 34 and a half minutes straight and Ball State went on a 21-0 run.
Uzodinma came into his junior season with starts in each of his previous two seasons, and coming off a sophomore campaign where he earned All-Mid American Conference Second Team honors.
Uzodinma’s big game should not come as a surprise, as he picked off five passes a year ago, but after his first ever score as a college football player, the lockdown corner earned himself our Week 3 defensive player of the game.