By Dane Massey | Sports Link
MUNCIE Ind — It was a tough one to watch Saturday as Georgia Southern ran away with the win against Ball State 34-23 at Allen E. Paulson Stadium.
The Cardinals traveled to Statesboro Ga. to take on the task of defeating the Eagles on their home turf. A task in which the Eagles held the advantage. Before coming in, Georgia Southern had one of the highest all-time win percentages in FBS history with a .627 win percentage (409-241-10), with a 206-46 all-time home record since the stadium was built in 1984. That winning percentage is the fourth-best out of all currently used FBS stadiums.
Ball State was tied with Georgia Southern at 20 going into the fourth quarter. That was when Georgia Southern dominated the Cardinals, outscoring them 14 points to three to run away with the game 34-23.
Despite the battle between the two, there was still some good that came out for the Cardinals. However, with the good, comes the bad, and the ugly.
It’s another strong showing for the junior out of Bloomington Hills, Mich. as John Paddock had another astonishing performance throwing for a career-high 338 yards as well as two touchdowns and one interception. For the showing, Paddock earned MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week Honors for the first time in his career.
As for his supporting cast, wideout Jayshon Jackson led all players with a season-high 122 receiving yards on 10 catches, while kicker Ben VonGunten put all three of his field goal attempts through the uprights to remain perfect on the season.
Ball State had major improvements in the red zone, scoring on every drive throughout the game as Ball State produced three field goals and a pair of touchdowns.
With the loss against Georgia Southern, the Cardinals fall to 1-3 on the season for the fourth time in five years. However, it is not something the Cardinals have been familiar with. Last season, the Cardinals started in the same spot as this season, 1-3 going into a home matchup.
This time, the Cardinals get to go home to take on another MAC opponent with a lot at stake. The Bronze Stalk trophy will be on the line against Northern Illinois, however, Ball State has not held the Bronze Stalk Trophy since 2020, and has only won against Northern Illinois five times since 2000.
It will be another gritty match for Ball State as Northern Illinois has proven to be a formidable foe. The Huskies have played some tough opponents so far this season, and compared to the Cardinals, the Huskies seem quite the test.
Last weekend, the Huskies traveled to Lexington, Ky. to take on one of the SEC’s premier teams in No. 7 Kentucky. The Huskies gave the Wildcats a battle. Being tied 14-14 at halftime, the Huskies kept top quarterback prospect, Will Levis, at bay and didn’t give up fighting until the very end. Northern Illinois would end up losing in a close battle with the Wildcats 31-23.
Like Ball State, the Huskies are 1-3 as well. However, Northern Illinois has been in a battle until the very end for every game they have had this season. Every game the Huskies have been in has been decided by 10 points or less (Eastern Illinois, Tulsa, No. 8 Kentucky, and Vanderbilt).
For Ball State, the penalties continue to be a torn in their side. In the game against the Eagles, Ball State had seven penalties for 95 yards, while Georgia Southern had four for 35 yards. Some of these penalties occurred at crucial moments in the game. Ball State also allowed 310 passing yards with two receivers for the Eagles have almost 100 yards or more.
Along with the penalties, the Cardinals were outscored 14-3 in the fourth quarter to mark another fourth-quarter collapse in a very winnable matchup.
So you roll that all up, and you have an ugly and disappointing loss for the Cardinals.
If the Cardinals are to keep up with winning games and try to hold onto a win, the Cardinals have to clean up the penalty issues.
The Cardinals return home Saturday, Oct. 1, for a Mid-American Conference matchup vs. Northern Illinois. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. ET at Scheumann Stadium and will be streaming live on ESPN+. Follow @bsusportslink for more updates.