MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State football team defeated Illinois State, 51-28, Thursday night at Scheumann Stadium in its season opener.
“We are very proud of our kids,” third-year head coach Pete Lembo says. “We beat a really good team tonight. Everybody kept their composure and nobody panicked. We had a great drive right before the half. There was no panic at halftime. We just went about our business and knew we were capable of playing better in the second half.”
After falling behind 21-9 late in the second quarter, the Cardinals scored 42 unanswered points before Illinois State added a late touchdown. Ball State’s 51 points marked the second time in its last four games the Cardinals have topped the 50-point mark.
“We have not had many wins by that margin in our first two years here,” Lembo says. “It is a good way to start. I think we beat a good team tonight. We have plenty to improve upon, but we came out of it relatively healthy. We certainly have plenty to fix, but this is where we are and it is not all bad. We are very realistic with where we are right now. We have to be humble and keep earning everything we get.”
Senior quarterback Keith Wenning accounted for five touchdowns in the game with three TD passes and two scoring runs. Wenning ended the contest with 340 yards, surpassing the 300-yard mark for the seventh time in his career.
Illinois State opened the scoring in the contest and increased its lead to 21-9 before Wenning connected on a 16-yard pass to Jordan Williams to close the gap to 21-16.
Wenning and Willie Snead then teamed up on back-to-back touchdown pass plays in the third quarter, lifting Ball State to a 30-21 lead. The first scoring strike was for nine yards, then Wenning found Snead across the middle for a 40-yard score to give the Cardinals a nine-point lead.
The game continued to go the Cardinals’ way on both sides of the ball, when linebacker Ben Ingle ran back the first interception of his career for 24 yards, which preceded a 3-yard touchdown rush from Wenning that put Ball State up 37-21 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Horactio Banks, who tallied 43 rushing yards on 10 carries for the game, scored on a 1-yard run with just over eight minutes to play in the game and the Cardinals led 44-21. With 5:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jahwan Edwards rushed for six yards for a touchdown to cap the night off.
“We have a lot of new guys playing for us,” Lembo says. “Those guys are kind of feeling their way. Offensively, we had five new starters. We did not change a lot in the second half, we just executed better.”
Ball State will host Army Sat., Sept. 7, in its second game of the season before traveling to North Texas Sept. 14, for its first road contest of the year.
Illinois State 7, Ball State 0
9:57- Colin Keoshian 1-yard touchdown run. Kick good Nick Aussieker
(16 plays, 75 yards, 5:03)
Illinois State 7, Ball State 6
6:10 – Keith Wenning 1-yard touchdown run. (10 plays, 74 yards, 3:42)
Illinois State 14, Ball State 6
3:50 – Jared Barnett 47-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Warrum. Kick good Nick Aussieker (6 plays, 75 yards, 2:20)
Illinois State 14, Ball State 9
2:14 – Scott Secor 22-yard field goal. (6 plays, 5 yards, 1:21)
Illinois State 21, Ball State 9
3:05 – Jared Barnett 5-yard touchdown pass to Matt Meyers. Kick good Nick Aussieker (5 plays, 68 yards, 2:26)
Ball State 51, Illinois State 28
:25 – Collin Keoshian 2-yard touchdown run. Kick good Nick Aussieker
(11 plays, 69 yards, 5:27)