DENTON, Texas -- The Ball State football team built an early lead Saturday at North Texas, but five turnovers proved too much to overcome in a 34-27 road loss.
Senior quarterback Keith Wenning topped 300 yards passing for the third straight game, but the Cardinals suffered their first loss of the season to drop to 2-1. North Texas improved to 2-1 with the victory and snapped Ball State’s string of eight straight regular-season wins dating back to last season.
Ball State led 27-9 late in the second quarter after Wenning’s second touchdown hook-up with junior receiver Willie Snead. But that was the last time the Cardinals would score.
North Texas found the end zone before the half on a 25-yard pass from Derek Thompson to Brelan Chancellor and went on to score 25 unanswered points the rest of the way. The Mean Green took its first lead on a 26-yard touchdown run from Thompson at the 9:47 mark in the final stanza, and that turned out to be the game-winning TD.
Ball State racked up 366 yards of offense in the first half, including a 77-yard touchdown run from Horactio Banks, but the Cardinals were held to 130 yards after the break. The Cardinals managed to hold the halftime lead despite three lost fumbles and an interception in the opening half.
Reggie Peagram of North Texas ran for a 32-yard score on the opening drive of the second half, and the Mean Green climbed within 27-24 with a two-point conversion. North Texas then tied the game on a Zach Paul field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Cardinals were led by Jeffrey Garrett, who totaled eight tackles. Garrett caused a fumble at the end of the first quarter that led to the Cardinals’ third score of the game. Brian Jones scooped it up and ran three yards into the end zone for his first career TD.
Offensively, Wenning threw for 333 yards and two scores. He tossed a pair of interceptions, the first of which ended a streak of 150 passes without a pick dating back to last season. Jamill Smith led the Cardinals in receiving with 115 yards, while Banks ran for a career-high 141 yards.
Ball State had the ball twice after North Texas took the lead, but the Cardinals punted after picking up one first down on the first of those drives, and North Texas sealed the game with an interception on the second.
Ball State will travel to Eastern Michigan next Saturday for its first Mid-American Conference contest of the season before returning home Sept. 28, when the Cardinals host Toledo at 3 p.m. in Scheumann Stadium.
Ball State 6, North Texas 0
9 plays, 75 yards, 3:26
Ball State 6, North Texas 3
8:12 – Zach Paul 48-yard field goal.
9 plays, 34 yards, 3:36
Ball State 13, North Texas 3
4 plays, 91 yards, :52
Ball State 20, North Texas 3
Ball State 20, North Texas 6
11:04 – Zach Paul 22-yard field goal.
11 plays, 70 yards, 4:16
Ball State 20, North Texas 9
6:23- Zach Paul 47-yard field goal.
7 plays, 27 yards, 3:08
Ball State 27, North Texas 9
10 plays, 75 yards, 2:57
Ball State 27, North Texas 16
1:50 – Derek Thompson 25-yard touchdown pass to Brelan Chancellor. Zach Paul kick good.
4 plays, 71 yards, 1:36
Ball State 27, North Texas 24
12:37 – Reggie Pegram 32-yard touchdown run. Derek Thompson 3-yard two- point conversion to Drew Miller complete.
7 plays, 74 yards, 2:22
Ball State 27, North Texas 27
14:51- Zach Paul 19-yard field goal.
15 plays, 66 yards, 5:32
North Texas 34, Ball State 27
9:47 – Derek Thompson 26-yard touchdown run. Zach Paul kick good.
9 plays, 56 yards, 3:58