Ball State's football team, under the direction of second-year head coach Pete Lembo, held its annual Spring Game at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinal's offense managed a 50-49 victory.
The Cardinals offense and defense competed for four 15-minute quarters with the special teams units conducting drills between quarters. Ball State used a unique scoring system, which included offensive points for first downs, field goals, touchdowns, extra points and two-point conversions. The defense was awarded points for drive stops, three and outs, takeaways, touchdowns, extra points and safeties.
"This was a great day for our program," Lembo says. "I thought the scrimmage was competitive with good balance. It just seemed like there was a little more energy and explosiveness this year. The control our quarterbacks took of the offense compared to last year was a real positive. Our defense managed some great takeaways and we had a much better pass rush."
Steven Schott provided the first big scoring play of the game when he connected on a 19-yard field goal. A pair of interceptions by Andre Dawson and Kenneth Lee highlighted the first half for the defense.
The second quarter saw the Ball State quarterbacks connect on two long scoring plays. Kelly Page threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Heard, while Keith Wenning completed a 54-yard pass to Willie Snead. After the pair of scores, the Cardinal took a 31-22 lead.
Wenning added a 51-yard scoring strike to Jamill Smith in the third quarter to give the Cardinal a 39-22 advantage.
The fourth quarter scoring was highlighted by a 47-year field goal by Schott, which made the score Cardinal 44, White 39. A series of first down drives in the final series enabled the Cardinal to tally the victory.
Former Ball State lettermen Michael Blair and Greg Garnica served as honorary coaches for the game.
Blair earned four letters for Ball State from 1993-96 and was a part of two Mid-American Conference Championship teams that competed in bowl games. Blair helped the Cardinals to the 1993 and 1996 MAC titles and berths in the Las Vegas Bowl each of those seasons. He was the MAC Freshman of the Year in 1993, and earned All-MAC first team honors that season. Blair also earned All-MAC Second Team honors in 1995, and completed his career with a then-school record 3,051 career rushing yards. Blair was the first Ball State football player to ever rush for over 3,000 yards in a career.
Garnica lettered for the Cardinals from 1986-89 and was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, 1988 and 1989. He led Ball State to the 1989 MAC Championship and the Cardinals first-ever NCAA Divsion IA bowl game -- the 1989 California Raisin Bowl. A linebacker for the Cardinals, Garnica was an All-MAC selection in 1989 and earned second team honors in 1986 and 1988. He completed his Ball State career as the school's all-time leading tackler with 689 career tackles -- a record that stands today. Garnica also managed 13 career interceptions, which is tied for the fourth best mark in school history, while his six career fumble recoveries ties for the school's all-time mark.
Ball State welcomes back 30 lettermen, including 13 starters, from a 2011 team that managed a 6-6 overall record.
The Cardinals open the 2012 season Thurs., Aug. 30, vs. Eastern Michigan in a Mid-American Conference game at Scheumann Stadium. Ball State will also host South Florida Sept. 22, Northern Illinois Oct. 6, Western Michigan Oct. 13 and Ohio Nov. 14.