By: Donnie Harmon
Ball State Sports Link
It was not a usual performance for Justin Hall in Wednesday’s 29-30 loss at Northern Illinois. The fifth-year wide receiver finished with just three receptions for 34 yards, a much lower total than normal. Despite this, he still found ways to impact the game, particularly on the ground, where he carried the ball seven times for 79 yards and two touchdowns, good for an average of over 11 yards.
While his total yards may not be the most gaudy statistic that Hall has put up this season, every time he touched the ball it felt like he was making a play that put Ball State in a better position to win. The Cardinals were able to establish Hall as a threat in the running game early, as he took a handoff 15 yards on their first drive and did not look back. Not long after, Hall made a play on special teams as well, where he is one of the biggest threats in the MAC, as he returned a punt 23 yards to set up Ball State at the Huskies 39-yard line. While it did not result in points, it still helped Ball State win the field position battle early.
Hall was extending Ball State drives almost every time he touched the ball, as all but one of his touches resulted in a first down or touchdown for Ball State, making his impact on the offense feel much larger than his 113 yards of total offense, which is still a good number, would indicate.
Hall found the end zone for the first time in the second quarter, when he took a handoff from seven yards out and lowered his shoulder to get into the end zone, putting the Cardinals up 17-7.
Hall continued the momentum into the second half, frequently making plays, and scoring again early in the third quarter, lining up in the backfield and taking it in from two yards out.
As he has done throughout his college career, Hall came up huge late in the fourth quarter. With the Cardinals now trailing by one with a little over two minutes left, Hall opened Ball State’s final drive with a 19 yard run and a 15 yard reception, putting the Ball State offense quickly in Huskies territory, and helping them kick the go-ahead field goal.
While Northern Illinois was able to quickly march down the field and kick the game winning field goal as time expired, Hall was one of the main reasons Ball State was in a position to get a much needed win against their division rival.
Perhaps most notable from the game was Hall reaching another milestone; this time breaking the Ball State record for career all-purpose yards, with 5,352.
Hall and the Cardinals will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday when they return home to face off against the Central Michigan Chippewas.