"I am proud of the kids," Ball State second-year head coach Pete Lembo says. "They were really resilient in the second half and really came out focused in the second half. I cannot quite explain some of the things in the first half because there were certainly moments where I thought we looked really good, and then obviously turnovers and some of the penalties and big plays we gave up hurt us."
The Cardinals 11-point margin of victory was the largest in the series with the Eagles since a 38-16 Cardinals win in 2008. The previous three meetings were each decided by three points or fewer.
Sophomore running back Jahwan Edwards had a career long 75-yard touchdown run in the opening minutes of the second half to give the Cardinals a 20-13 advantage over the Eagles. Edwards ended the game with three rushing touchdowns, while rushing for a career high 200 yards, surpassing his previous career best of 123 yards last year at Ohio. Edwards 200 rushing yards are the most by a Ball State player since MiQuale Lewis (301) and Cory Sykes (203) both topped the 200-mark against Eastern Michigan in 2009.
"I really believe our offensive line took control of the game in the second half and I am very proud of how we ran the ball," Lembo says.
Defensively senior co-captain and middle linebacker Travis Freeman led Ball State with nine tackles while teammates Jeffery Garrett and Chris Pauling each had seven. The Cardinals defense held the Eagles scoreless in the first and third quarters.
Ball State added two more touchdowns in the third quarter after a rushing TD from sophomore Horactio Banks at the 7:04 mark and then Edwards added another TD with :08 remaining to make it a 34-13 game.
Senior kicker Steven Schott made his third field goal in four attempts when he made a 19-yard field goal to put Ball State up 37-13 at the start of the fourth quarter. Eastern Michigan added two touchdowns to the scoreboard to cut the Cardinals lead to 37-26 with 5:01 remaining in the contest.
The first half marked an offensive battle for the second straight season between the two schools, as Ball State took the early 10-0 edge over the Eagles after a seven-yard TD run from Edwards and a career long 52-yard field goal from Schott. The Cardinals tied the game 13-13 to end the half after putting together 10-play scoring drive that would allow Schott to nail a 29-yard field goal.
Eastern Michigan answered back in the second quarter after back-to-back touchdowns from Eagles quarterback Alex Gillett, who found wide receiver Donald Scott for 8-yards and then tight end Garrett Hoskins for 23-yards which gave Eastern Michigan the 13-10 advantage over the Cardinals.
"I think ths is a good way to start," Lembo says. "It is an important win because it is a conference win. We know what that means. But I also know we have a tough stretch of games coming up beginning next week, so hopefully we can clean some things up between week one and week two. We have to finish a little better, we have to be more consistent throughout the game, and we have to cut back on our penalties."
Ball State 7, Eastern Michigan 0
10 plays, 80 yards, 11:42
Ball State 10, Eastern Michigan 0
1:58- 52-yard career long field goal from Steven Schott.
9 plays, 16 yards, 4:44
Ball State 10, Eastern Michigan 7
11:56- Alex Gillett 8-yard touchdown pass to Donald Scott. Kody Fulkerson kick good.
6 plays, 71 yards, 2:13
Eastern Michigan 13, Ball State 10
4:37 - Alex Gillett 23-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Hoskins. Kody Fulkerson kick no good.
5 plays, 37 yards, 1:20
Ball State 13, Eastern Michigan 13
:03- Steven Schott 29-yard field goal.
10 plays, 65 yards, 1:28
Ball State 20, Eastern Michigan 13
12:31-Jahaun Edwards 75-yard touchdown run. Steven Schott kick good.
2 plays, 86 yards, :27
Ball State 27, Eastern Michigan 13
9 plays, 97 yards, 3:01
Ball State 34, Eastern Michigan 13
:08- Jahuan Edwards 3-yard touchdown run. Steven Schott kick good.
16 plays, 50 yards, 6:15
Ball State 37, Eastern Michigan 13
11:41- Steven Schott 19-yard field goal.
8 plays, 73 yards, 2:39
Ball State 37, Eastern Michigan 19
10:02 - Alex Gillett 7-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Dawkins. Two points conversion incomplete.
8 plays, 75 yards, 1:39
Ball State 37, Eastern Michigan 26
5:15 - Alex Gillett 16-yard touchdown rush. Kody Fulkerson kick good.
6 plays, 87 yards, 1:43