By: Alec Runyan
Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State Cardinals extended its winning streak to three-straight games after defeating Eastern Michigan 38-31 in Ypsilanti on Saturday. With the win, Ball State goes to 4-3 (2-1 MAC) on the year while Eastern drops to 4-3 (1-2 MAC).
Balance was the key for the Ball State offense today as nine different Cardinals caught at least one pass, with six receivers going over 25 yard on the day.
The program’s all-time leading receiver, Justin Hall, added another milestone to his storybook career during the first quarter. Finishing the day with a season-high 10 catches, Hall has now caught a pass in 50 consecutive games dating back to his freshman season in 2017.
Ball State’s offense had another great game despite Eastern Michigan’s stingy defense. Entering week seven the Eagles had only allowed 22 points per game, second-best in the MAC.
The Cardinals totaled a season-high 433 yards, almost perfectly split with 233 through the air and 200 on the ground.
“Kevin Lynch called a tremendous game today,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said. “I was very proud of him and it was a great game plan. Obviously our guys really responded to be able to do that on the ground today. Having 40 carries over 200 yards and four scores that says a lot.”
Freshman running back Carson Steele led the Cardinals ground game with a season-high 138 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Just over halfway through the season, Steele has run for 379 yards, averaging over five yards a carry with five touchdowns.
Will Jones and Justin Hall also found success on the ground game. Jones carried the ball 12 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Adding a pair of scores of his own, Hall found the end zone twice while running for 19 yards.
The Cardinals got out to an early 14-0 lead before the end of the first quarter and held the lead for the remaining of the game. Hot starts have been a common theme over Ball State’s win-streak.
Although the first play didn’t result in a touchdown like the two weeks prior – the Cardinals dialed up some trickery early.
On the first play from scrimmage, the Cardinals ran a successful double-pass for 26 yards. Drew Plitt threw a quick pass to wide receiver Jayshon Jackson behind the line of scrimmage who then looked downfield and found Steele open near midfield.
Plitt had his most accurate day of the season, completing 27-35 (77%) attempts for 207 yards and one touchdown.
Over the past three Cardinal victories, Plitt has been lights out. He’s thrown for over 200 yards with at least one touchdown in each game with no turnovers.
Senior wide receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler is back to being a scoring machine with five catches and at least one touchdown in each of his last three games. A year ago, Tyler averaged a touchdown per contest during the eight game season.
Cincinnati transfer Jayshon Jackson has seemed to find his groove within the offense going for five catches and 57 yards. Jackson has gone over 50 yards now for his third-straight game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals bent but didn’t break. EMU gunslinger Ben Bryant threw for 331 yards and a touchdown but was also picked off twice. His first multiple-interception game of the season.
Senior safeties J.T. Wahee and Malcom Lee both got there first interceptions of the season. Lee who saw more action than any other game prior this season, made arguably the biggest play of the game.
Just as the Eagles were gaining some momentum on their final drive, Lee picked off Bryant to seal the game with just under a minute left.
Bryce Cosby led the Cardinals with his second consecutive game with 10 tackles and one sack. Cosby has four sacks now on the year.
Hot starts, defensive turnovers, and balance on offense have all been the difference for the Cardinals lately. Ball State has zero turnovers on offense during its win streak, while their opponents have totaled eight. Definitely a difference maker for Mike Neu’s group.
Ball State returns to Muncie to take on Miami (OH) for homecoming this Saturday, October 23. The Red Bird Rivalry will kick off at 3:30 inside Scheumann Stadium.
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