BY DONNIE HARMON | Ball State Sports Link
It was the most dominant performance of the year for Ball State, as the Cardinals came out of Mount Pleasant with a 45-20 win over Central Michigan, moving Ball State into a tie for first place in the MAC West with Western Michigan.
At the centerpiece of this fantastic team performance was senior quarterback Drew Plitt, who for the second straight week took over the game in the absence of star running back Caleb Huntley, racking up season highs in passing yards (366), passing touchdowns (4) and rushing yards (29), with a score on the ground to go along with that.
The redshirt senior from Loveland, Ohio, moved into a tie for fifth with his head coach Mike Neu on BSU’s career touchdown passes list with 43.
The Mid-American Conference also honored the senior this week.
Plitt has now earned West Division weekly honors five times in his career. He is a candidate for this year’s Manning Award presented to the nation’s top quarterback
While Plitt led Ball State to a field goal on the first drive after starting with good field position, it was the second offensive drive for the Cardinals where Plitt took over.
After starting the drive backed up at its own 5 yard line, Plitt marched the offense down the field 95 yards, going a perfect 6-for-6 through the air with 90 yards to show for it. The drive included a 27 yard reception by redshirt freshman wideout Jalen McGaughy, which was the first catch of his collegiate career.
Yo’Heinz Tyler capped off the drive on a quick pass, making a Chippewa defender miss in open space, taking it in from 20 yards out.
In the second quarter, Plitt showed off his underrated ability to use his legs, as he ran for a massive first down on a 4th-and-5, and then finished off the drive with an impressive 12-yard scamper, making the Chippewa defenders miss in open space.
Plitt added another touchdown before the halftime break, finding tight end Dylan Koch from 5 yards out for his first career score.
After a somewhat sluggish start to the second half, with Plitt throwing his lone interception on the first drive, and failing to score on the next couple, the offense got going in a big way at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.
A muffed punt by Central Michigan at its own 28 opened the floodgates for the Cardinals’ offense. After running it into the endzone in three plays, the Ball State offense had gained its momentum back.
On their next two drives, Plitt and the rest of the offense tore up the CMU defense, with both drives ending with Jalen McGaughy scores after perfect passes from Plitt, the first from 39 yards out and the second from 34, effectively ending the game.
McGaughy, who had not caught a pass in his young college career before this week, finished with three receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Ball State held on to win in eye-catching fashion, 45-20, against a Central Michigan squad that entered the game with a 3-1 record.
Plitt finished with a dominant stat line: 26 for 43 with 366 yards, four touchdowns, and a rushing score as well.
Plitt will look to keep his hot streak going as Ball State returns home Saturday to face Western Michigan in its biggest game of the year. The winner clinches a division championship and earns a spot in the MAC Championship game.
Sports Link GameDay LIVE gets you ready for the action Saturday at 11 a.m. on social (@bsusportslink), leading up to kick on ESPN+ and with SL Digital (www.mixlr.com/bsusportslink).