The Sycamores (2-1) reclaimed the Victory Bell in the first meeting between the teams since 2003. Ball State (1-2) had won the previous seven meetings.
The Cardinals were on the move in the final minute and had the ball inside the red zone, looking to tie the game. Quarterback Ozzie Mann scrambled and was tackled at the 2-yard line with 11 seconds to play, but time ran out before the ball could be spotted for one final play.
The Cardinals limited Indiana State to only 44 yards on the ground, but Sycamore quarterback Mike Perish logged 317 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The final score came on a 28-yard pass to Kyanni Harris that broke a 20-20 tie with 3:50 to play.
Ball State had the ball twice in the closing minutes. The Cardinals punted on the first of those possessions and got the ball back a second time after forcing a quick three-and-out and a punt. They then went 47 yards in 12 plays on the last drive before coming up just short.
“We are definitely disappointed, but this is where we are right now,” Lembo said. “There is going to be very little margin for error, and we are going to be in a lot of close games. This will be a great test for our guys. I keep sending them a very honest, consistent message about where we are, and hopefully they are hearing the message.”
Mann, making his third career start, threw for a career-high 266 yards and hit Jordan Hogue for the freshman’s first career touchdown catch in the second quarter to give Ball State a 14-3 lead. But Indiana State limited the Cardinals to two Scott Secor field goals the rest of the way.
Jahwan Edwards accounted for the first Ball State score of the day with his 41st career touchdown run, extending his own school record. He also became only the third back in school history to surpass 3,500 rushing yards for his career.
Ball State will now hit the road for two straight games, starting with next Saturday’s Mid-American Conference opener at Toledo.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)