“This is what college football is all about,” Ball State head coach Pete Lembo said. “We have been in a lot of close games with these guys, and today was no exception. But the thing I’m most proud of is how our guys kept believing through several weeks of adversity. That goes back to culture and that goes back to the things we talk about every day, believing in what we do and how we do it.”
Ball State (2-5, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) led the majority of the contest, but Cooper Rush’s third touchdown pass of the day and a two-point conversion for Central Michigan tied things up, 29-29, with 2:22 to play.
“It was good execution on a two-minute drill, and we knew if we got it inside the 40 with the wind at our back we’d have a shot,” Lembo said. “It was too far of a kick to get great height on it, but he drilled it and the protection was good.”
The Cardinals staved off one final gasp from Central Michigan (4-4, 2-1 MAC) on a Hail Mary pass on the final play. Eric Patterson came down with the ball for his second interception of the game to secure the win. Patterson created three turnovers on a day when the Cardinals took the ball away from Central Michigan a total of five times.
Offensively, Edwards carried the load with 98 yards on a career-high 32 carries. A 10-yard run late in the third quarter moved him ahead of Marcus Merriweather (1999-2002) and into the top spot on Ball State’s career rushing list. The senior now owns 4,013 yards for his career.
Edwards, who already held the school record for touchdowns, ran for a pair of first-half scores. The second of those TDs came from 1-yard out after a sack-fumble created by Darnell Smith and gave the Cardinals a 26-14 halftime advantage.
“Jahwan has made the most of the opportunity,” Lembo said. “He’s a better man, a better player and a better student than when he got here. He has embraced the role that he has as one of the most visible students on campus. He’s made the most of it, and there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
A 27-yard scoring pass for Central Michigan from Rush to Titus Davis and a Secor field goal for Ball State left the score at 29-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals made a pair of key red zone stops in the final period, one on a forced fumble by Patterson and another on downs, to maintain that lead until the Chippewas were able to tie it up.
Secor connected on four field goals in the game, matching his career high. The Cardinals also scored on a 40-yard pass from Jack Milas to KeVonn Mabon. Milas, making his second start, threw for 198 yards, and Mabon led the Cardinals with 99 yards receiving.
Rush passed for 245 yards and three scores to lead Central Michigan. Davis had 128 yards receiving and two scores, while Thomas Rawls led Central Michigan on the ground with 167 yards.
Ball State picked up its 13th win in its past 16 MAC games. The Cardinals will continue league play next Saturday at Scheumann Stadium when they host Akron with a 2 p.m. kickoff. Central Michigan is at Buffalo (3:30 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of Ball State Athletics)