Ball State Drops RedBird Rivalry 24-17

Alec Runyan

Ball State Sports Link

Ball State’s three-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday with the Cardinals 24-17 loss to Miami (OH).

Not only was the RedBird Rivalry on the line but it was Ball State’s 95th Homecoming, drawing in a crowd of over 15,000 to Scheumann Stadium.

Drew Plitt and the offense seemed to pick up where they left off last week, running seven plays for 75-yards for a touchdown in the game’s opening drive. Set up by a 38-yard catch from Jayshon Jackson, Plitt found Justin Hall in the back corner of the end zone for the early 7-0 lead.   

Ball State’s momentum would come to a halt shortly after that when the Cardinals turned the ball over for the first time since week four.

The Cardinals had two turnovers on the day, something that hadn’t been an issue in their previous three games. During Ball State’s win streak, the Cardinals had forced eight turnovers on defense while having none on offense.

“It’s tough to lose the turnover battle,” head coach Mike Neu said. “We’ve been so good at that the last three weeks. We certainly had some untimely penalties, too. Right there at the end, we did a good job of driving down the field, but credit 21 (Sterling Weatherford) for making a play. We’ve got to stick together, regroup and move forward.”

Unfortunately for Ball State, both turnovers came at costly times for the Cardinals.

The first turnover came in the first quarter on a mishandled read option between Drew Plitt and Carson Steele. Miami was able to win the fight for the loose ball and come away with the turnover at Ball State’s 46-yard line. Five plays later, Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert found Andrew Homer in the end zone to tie the game 7-7.

The game continued to stay tight for the remainder of the afternoon as neither team held a leader greater than seven. The Cardinals found themselves down 16-10 at halftime with Miami set to return on offense to start the third quarter.

Outside linebacker Christian Albright came up with a big strip-sack on third down for Ball State, forcing Miami to punt four plays into its first drive of the second half.

Ball State would go down to score and take the lead 17-16 thanks to a four-yard connection between Plitt and Jackson. However, that would be the last time the Cardinals would put points on the board.

Jayshon Jackson had his best game since joining the Cardinals. The Cincinnati transfer finished the afternoon with eight catches for 121 yards to go along with the one touchdown.

With just over 11 minutes left in the game, Miami took the lead as Gabbert through his second touchdown on the day. Following a successful two-point conversion, the RedHawks led 24-17.

Ball State’s defense held Miami the remainder of the game, giving the offense several opportunities to score.

Safety Bryce Cosby had his third-consecutive week with 10 tackles. Cosby has made himself as a serious contender, if not the frontrunner for MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

The Cardinals were led by Clayton Coll however who finished the day with 11 total tackles.

After a missed field goal from 51-yards out, Plitt and the offense came back onto the field with just over two minutes.

Just as the Cardinals got into the red zone, Plitt threw into tight coverage while looking for Jackson in the end zone but was picked off. With just a minute left, Miami was able to run victory formation several times and run out the clock.

The Cardinals have extra time off now to regroup as they head into the bye week. Ball State is set to return to action Saturday, November 2 at Akron, kicking off at 7 p.m.