Not only did Ball State (3-1) play the entire game from behind as FAU (1-3) jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, but the Cardinals had to deal with lightning delays that totaled more than two hours.
The game, which was originally scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., didn’t start until almost 7 p.m. due to lightning. A few minutes after halftime, the game was halted again for 30 minutes because of lightning in the vicinity. Right before Ball State began its game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, one final 30-minute delay halted the game.
“We had some crazy things happen, and this may . . .
Ball State’s defense allowed 24 first half points to Florida Atlantic as the Cardinals trailed at intermission, 24-17. However, the Cardinals regrouped and only gave up three points in the second half.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter and FAU in possession of the ball at the Ball State 30-yard line. The Owls held a three-point lead, 27-24, and faced a 4th-and-1 situation. Florida Atlantic decided to go for the first down, but senior Zack Ryan stuffed the run attempt for no gain.
Following that play, the final lightning delay occurred forcing the teams back into the locker rooms. The delay didn’t slow down the offense, however, as BSU moved 70 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead score. Sophomore running back Darian Green kick started the drive with a 22-yard catch and run.
MABON COMES UP BIG
Senior wide receiver KeVonn Mabon came up with two huge catches on the drive, one on a third down to move the chains, and another on a highlight-reel catch along the far sidelines to advance the ball to FAU’s two-yard line. Neal capped the drive with a two-yard scoring run up the middle to give Ball State its only lead of the game.
The Cardinals defense made sure the lead would hold up as Florida Atlantic went loss of yards, incompletion, sack and interception on its ensuing drive. Senior defensive lineman Joshua Posley came up with the sack to put FAU in a 4th-and-15 scenario. Ryan then got his hands on an interception on fourth down to seal the victory in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Neal, who threw an interception on Ball State’s first possession of the contest, bounced back to account for all four Cardinals touchdowns. He finished 23-of-37 for 252 yards and two scores through the air. On the ground, Neal tallied team-highs in carries (14) and rushing yards (74) to go along with two more touchdowns.
“It is kind of just taking what they give us,” Neal said. “You want those running backs to have the ball, but if they are going to take it away and give us four or five yards on a play then we will take it.”
Meanwhile, senior linebacker Sean Wiggins tied his personal high with 13 stops. Ten different players on defense were involved in a tackle for loss.
Next up for Ball State is the Mid-American Conference opener against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 1 at Scheumann Stadium. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)