By: Donnie Harmon
Ball State Sports Link
By Donnie Harmon / Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State Cardinals football team did not get the result they were looking for on Wednesday, falling to Central Michigan by a score of 37-17. While the outcome might have been disappointing, a big bright spot for Ball State was the performance from freshman running back Carson Steele. Steele finished the game with 93 rushing yards and a touchdown, while also catching three passes for 44 yards, totaling 137 total yards of offense.
Steele was dominant out of the gates for the Cardinals, leading the charge for the offense as they marched down the field for a first drive score. On the drive, Steele ran for 23 yards and caught a pass for 31 yards, the longest play of the game for Ball State. He powered it in from nine yards out for the score to put Ball State up 6-0 early in the first quarter.
Frequently throughout the game, when Ball State was able to move the ball at a successful rate, it was because they were putting the ball in the hands of Steele.
In the second quarter trailing 14-7, after a couple of unsuccessful drives, the Cardinals got the ball into the hands of Steele more frequently, and were rewarded. On that drive, Steele carried the ball three times for 31 yards, including his longest run of the game, which went for 19 yards. Steele’s efforts on the drive allowed Ball State to get into close enough range to kick a field goal and cut their deficit to just four points.
Steele also showed his versatility in the offense, as he has established himself as a threat in the passing game as well throughout the year, becoming a pass catching weapon out of the backfield. He displayed this on Ball State’s second to last drive before halftime, as he caught two passes, including a big 6 yard reception on third down which extended the drive and allowed the Cardinals to score a touchdown before halftime, cutting their deficit to 28-17.
While it was a less productive second half for Steele as the Ball State offense stagnated while playing from behind, he was at the center of Ball State’s first half success. The continued increase in production from Steele is one of the biggest developments as well for Ball State. While Ball State has leaned heavily on a senior laden bunch for production, many of whom are super seniors exercising their extra year of Covid eligibility, Steele is a true freshman, and figures to be the main building block for Ball State football in the coming years. Steele is now up to 784 yards rushing on the season.
Steele and the Cardinals will look to gain bowl eligibility on Tuesday at home against Buffalo, in a rematch of last year’s MAC championship game.