Football Becomes Bowl Eligible with 33-31 Win
YPSILANTI, Mich.- The Ball State football team (6-4, 4-2 MAC) captured its sixth victory of the season and became bowl eligible after defeating Eastern Michigan (5-4, 3-2 MAC) 33-31 Saturday afternoon at Rynearson Stadium on a game winning 44-yard field goal by Steven Schott with 13 seconds left in the contest.
"I am pleasantly surprised with our persistence," Ball State first-year head coach Pete Lembo says. "We have some quality young guys who are making plays. We decided to go for the field goal to make sure bad things didn't happen on one final play. I have confidence in our kicking game. We have a level headed group of guys kicking for us and it just comes down to everyone doing their job."
The game would come down to the fourth quarter, where the Cardinals would strike first to make it a 30-28 contest, after Schott made his third field goal of the game for 23 yards at the 6:52 mark.
The Eagles would put together a 13-play drive that put them with a first and goal with 2:17 left to play. Ball State's defense held EMU for no gain on the first play, and a loss of four on the second play. With a third and goal from the five yard line, EMU would rush for three yards and a 20-yard field goal would give the Eagles a 31-30 lead with 1:11 left in the contest and set up Schott's last second heroics.
"We practice for that situation all the time," Schott says. "I just tried to do my job. I just keep my mind clear of distractions. I had a feeling they were going to call their timeouts, but I just didn't let it bother me. The snap and hold were good and the blocking was excellent."
Sophomore quarterback Keith Wenning moved into to fourth place all-time in single season passing yards at Ball State with 2,233 yards after throwing 20 completions on 35 attempts for a total of 284 yards and two touchdowns. Wenning passes Mike Neu, who had 2,148 yards in 1993.
Ball State opened the second half with a score to regain the lead 27-21 over Eastern Michigan after freshman running back Jahwan Edwards rushed 15-yards for his 10th career touchdown. The Eagles would score at the end of the third quarter to go up 28-27 over the Cardinals.
It was an offensive battle in the first quarter, as both teams scored two touchdowns a piece, with Ball State getting on the board first after a career long touchdown pass and reception that was thrown 94-yards from Wenning to senior wide receiver Torieal Gibson at the 9:38 mark.
Eastern Michigan then tied the game at 7-7 with 6:46 left in the first quarter after a 32-yard TD pass from quarter back Alex Gillett to wide receiver Trey Hunter.
In Ball State's ensuing possession, it took less than two minutes for the Cardinals to strike again after Wenning found Barrington Scott for 8-yards in the endzone allowing Ball State to regain the 14-7 edge over the Eagles. Just before the end of the first quarter Eastern Michigan managed to even the score 14-14.
Schott made two field goals in the second quarter one from 39-yards and one from 29-yards with 1:08 remaining in the half. Only one touchdown was scored in the quarter and that was after Eastern Michigan scored under the two minute mark taken its first lead of the game 21-17.
Sophomore Jamill Smith had a career long 78-yard kickoff return which set the Cardinals up to score a 29-yard field goal from Schott. Ball State would end the half trailing Eastern Michigan 21-20 after senior Joshua Howard blocked the Eagles 53-yard field goal attempt.
The Ball State football team continues Mid-American Conference action Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Northern Illinois.
Ball State 7, Eastern Michigan
3 plays, 99 yards, :44
Ball State 7, Eastern Michigan 7
6:46- Alex Gillett 32-yard touchdown pass to Trey Hunter. Kody Fulkerson kick good.
6 plays, 68 yards, 2:46
Ball State 14, Eastern Michigan 7
8 plays, 75 yards, 1:49
Ball State 14, Eastern Michigan 14
:38- Alex Gillett 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nick Olds. Kody Fulkerson kick good.
7 plays, 70 yards, 4:05
Ball State 17, Eastern Michigan 14
13:23- Steven Schott 31-yard field goal.
6 plays, 58 yards, 2:10
Eastern Michigan 21, Ball State 17
1:47 - Alex Gillett 14-yard touchdown pass to Tyreese Russell. Kody Fulkerson kick good.
10 plays, 66 yards, 4:54
Eastern Michigan 21, Ball State 20
1:08- Steven Schott 29-yard field goal.
4 plays, 3 yards, :26
Ball State 27, Eastern Michigan 21
7 plays, 57 yards, 1:54
Eastern Michigan 28, Ball State 27
:04- Alex Gillett 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyreese Russell. Kody Fulkerson kick good.
13 plays, 88 yards, 5:58
Ball State 30, Eastern Michigan 28
6:52- Steven Schott 23-yard field goal.
13 plays, 76 yards, 5:13
Eastern Michigan 31, Ball State 30
1:18- Kody Fulkerson 20-yard field goal.
13 plays, 66 yards, 5:27
Ball State 33, Eastern Michigan 31
:09-Steven Schott 44-yard field goal.
9 plays, 46 yards, 1:02