By: Alec Runyan
Ball State Sports Link
Ball State returned home to Scheumann Stadium Saturday afternoon for the first time since week one for a MAC West showdown with Toledo.
The Rockets (2-2, 1-0 MAC) outlasted the Cardinals (1-3, 0-1 MAC) down the stretch as Ball State drops its MAC debut 22-12, snapping a six-game conference win streak.
On what was a tough afternoon for Ball State’s offense, wide receiver Justin Hall delivered as he’s done his entire career leading the Cardinals offense with seven receptions for 97 yards. Hall also led the Cardinals with 64 rushing yards as well.
The fifth-year senior entered the game 66 receiving yards shy of breaking Ball State’s record for receiving yards in a career.
Hall, who has now totaled 3,061 career receiving yards, passed Dante Ridgeway’s record of 3,030 yards dating back to 2004.
Despite putting points on the board with a pair of field goals during their first two drives, the Cardinals had a hard time finding the end zone all game and ending up settling for four field goals on the day.
Sophomore Jacob Lewis was successful on all three of his field goal attempts today, including a 47 yarder that brought Ball State within a touchdown with 11 minutes left in the game but those would be the final points for BSU on the day.
Jake Chanove also added a 29-yard field goal for the Cardinals in the second quarter.
Offensively Ball State didn’t make a lot of mistakes, only giving up one turnover that didn’t even result in a first down for Toledo. The biggest problem for the Cardinals was there wasn’t any of the big plays that they’ve been accustom to in their recent success.
Ball State’s longest play came on its first drive when Drew Plitt found Hall running down the middle of the field for a 35-yard gain.
After giving up 209 yards on the ground a week ago to Colorado State, Toledo made an emphasis on stopping Ball State’s run game on Saturday. Coming into the game, BSU running backs Will Jones and Carson Steele were averaging nearly 110 yards combined but were held to just 38 total yards combined on the day.
Jayshon Jackson was second for the Cardinals in yards on the day grabbing a pair of catches for 26 yards, with redshirt senior Trevor Hohlt also contributing with three catches for 22 yards.
Drew Plitt completed 21 of his 35 attempts for 190 yards and was sacked four times.
On the defensive side of things, Ball State has a lot to be happy with coming away from its first taste of MACtion.
Other than giving up two big plays in the first half resulting in a couple touchdowns, the defense is what kept Ball State in the game and gave them a chance in the fourth quarter.
On Toledo’s first drive– quarterback Carter Bradley found Devin Maddox on what appeared to be blown coverage for Ball State, for a 69-yard touchdown. Maddox, who’s been Bradley’s favorite target this year was held to just one catch for six yards the rest of the game.
“Felt great about our week of preparation— guys played hard,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said following the game. “I was really proud of the defense for really keeping us in the game there because offensively we’re struggling to find the end zone.”
Middle linebackers Clayton Coll and Jaylin Thomas both were very active today leading the Ball State defense.
Coll, a junior from Franklin, Indiana– has seen his playing time increase and is making the most of it leading the Cardinals with 15 total tackles on the day including two tackles for a loss and assisting in a sack.
Jaylin Thomas was able to step in front of one of Bradley’s passes on Toledo’s opening drive in the second half grabbing his first interception of the year and giving Ball State the ball right at midfield.
Veteran leader Bryce Cosby also made several big plays, including back-to-back tackles for a loss that pushed Toledo out of field goal range in the third quarter. Cosby finished with 8 total tackles on the day.
In the end, big plays were the difference maker for Ball State. While Toledo’s offense was able to produce several throughout the game, the Cardinal’s offense wasn’t able to respond with any of their own and in the end fell short.
Ball State moves on to Army next week, where the Cardinals welcome the Black Knights (4-0) to Scheumann Stadium for a 5 p.m. kickoff.