Uh. You guys good?
The defending MAC champions Ball State won its home matchup over Western Illinois on Thursday night to kick the season off. But with the final score of 31-21, it’s not exactly the kind of night the Cardinals were hoping to finish with.
Still, a win’s a win. And any close win over an FCS team is always better than a loss.
After the first 30 minutes ended with a 7-7 halftime score, the Cardinals needed to come through with more efficient drives and maybe another big play or two.
In the first half, the Cardinals punted the ball away in four of its first five drives. The lone non-punt was a long touchdown reception to Justin Hall, his first of two on the night. Hall’s second came in the third quarter, giving him 15 career TD.
Drew Plitt didn’t come up with enough answers to win this game more comfortably. He missed a few passes to guys that were wide open, and it led to the Cardinals going 5 of 14 on third downs. Still, he didn’t turn the ball over, and was 17/28 passing for 188 yards, and 2 TD.
Freshman running back Carson Steele might’ve played his way into getting more touches this year. He took a run up the middle to the house from 37 yards out to make it a 28-14 game, and had another long run in the following possession. Starting running back Wil Jones had 93 yards on 18 carries with 1 TD. Jones was also able to score on a run up the middle in the third quarter of the game.
Western Illinois receiver Dennis Houston, big #10, had a monster game and kept the Cardinals sweating all night. He had 12 receptions for 237 yards and two TD — both in the second half. Outside of Houston, WIU didn’t really have any playmakers on its offense.
- LB, Brandon Martin, co-defensive MVP and the MAC’s returning leader in tackles form last year came out of the game with an injury midway through, and did not return.
- Ball State’s Jake Chanove (R-Sr.) hit a late 35-yard FG. Was also 4/4 on XPs. This was his first career game played.
- CB, Nic Jones recorded his first career INT.
- This is Ball State’s eighth win in a row dating back to last year.