MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State football team became bowl eligible for the third straight season under the direction of third-year head coach Pete Lembo, after the Cardinals defeated Kent State 27-24 in their 87th Homecoming contest.
“I do not know if people will appreciate this as much as this team does, but we beat a good football team today,” Lembo says. “We really think highly of those guys on both sides of the football and special teams. Our defense just played extremely well and we were able to contain a dynamic guy.”
The Cardinals improved to 6-1 on the season and remain undefeated in the Mid-American Conference with a 3-0 record. Kent State falls to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in league action. Today’s win marked Lembo’s 100th career victory and came on a Keith Wenning to Willie Snead 7-yard touchdown pass with 1:29 left in the contest.
After uncharacteristically early turnovers by Ball State and stalwart defensive efforts by both teams caused the game to be tied at 7-7 at the half, the Cardinals rallied for 13 third quarter points to take a 20-14 lead as the third quarter neared an end.
“The turnovers, particularly in the first half, hurt us,” Lembo says. “Offensively, we had opportunities down in the red zone to come away with points but we need to learn to make better decisions with the football and with ball security down there.”
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Wenning threw a two-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Williams to give Ball State its first 14-7 lead of the ball game. Kent State answered back on its ensuing possession tying the contest for the second time, 14-14.
After a Jeffery Garrett interception to give the Cardinals the ball back, Wenning connected on a 25-yard pass to Jamill Smith at the 2:53 mark of the third quarter to give Ball State the 20-14 lead. Kent State responded early in the fourth quarter to take a 21-20 lead, and less than two minutes later, the Golden Flashes scored again on a 21-yard field goal and led 24-20 with 7:14 to play.
With 3:12 left in the game and down by four, Ball State put together a 5-play, 57-yard drive which resulted in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Wenning to Snead earning the Cardinals the victory.
“It was really neat to see how gutsy this team plays,” Lembo says. “How many times have we seen this in two and a half years. We are in these back-and-forth games and we are counting on guys to make plays down the stretch and they definitely did that today.”
The Ball State football team continues MAC action when it travels to Western Michigan Saturday for a 2 p.m. kickoff in Waldo Stadium.
Kent State 7, Ball State 0
5:19 – Anthony Meray 10-yard touchdown run. Anthony Melchiori kick good.
9 plays, 80 yards, 4:45
Ball State 7, Kent State 7
5 plays, 68 yards, 1:43
Ball State 14, Kent State 7
8 plays, 42 yards, 2:06
Ball State 14, Kent State 14
7:30 – Colin Reardon 14-yard touchdown pass to Dri Archer. Brad Miller kick good.
9 plays, 75 yards, 5:16
Ball State 20, Kent State 14
3 plays, 39 yards, :47
Kent State 21, Ball State 20
9:22 - Colin Reardon 28-yard touchdown pass to Chris Humphrey. Brad Miller kick good.
7 plays, 87 yards, 3:44
Kent State 24, Ball State 20
7:14 – Brad Miller 21-yard field goal.
4 plays, -3 yards, 1:30
Ball State 27, Kent State 24
5 plays, 57 yards, 1:43