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The 31-point victory gave BSU (4-7, 3-4 MAC) back-to-back wins for the first time this season, It was also the Cardinals' third victory in five games since Kiael Kelly took over as their starting quarterback in Week 7. Kent State (1-10, 0-7 MAC) absorbed its ninth consecutive loss.
The Cardinals' defense limited the Golden Flashes to just 29 yards rushing and only 97 yards total offense. It was the lowest total yardage figure allowed by a MAC team this season, and the lowest by a Ball State team since at least 2000. Kent State managed just 2.0 yards per play, also the lowest in the MAC this year. The Flashes' ten possessions resulted in eight punts, one field goal and a missed fourth-down attempt.
Perhaps another reason for Kent State's rushing woes was the absence of their 1,000-yard ball carrier of the past two seasons. The Flashes' loss was the Cardinals' gain as transfer running back Marquez Cooper ran ragged against his old club, collecting 140 yards on 25 carries. Averaging 5.6 yards per carry, Cooper recorded the 16th 100-yard game of his career and his third this season. He raised his season rushing mark to 907 yards to leave him 93 yards shy of his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.
Cooper teamed with Kelly to cement the Cardinals' 1-2 rushing punch, with Ball State also receiving 61 yards and a touchdown from Vaughn Pemberton in the fourth quarter. Together, the trio averaged 6.1 yards per carry while collecting 289 out of Ball State's 300 net rushing yards. Kelly added 88 yards that included a 22-yard TD. Pemberton's career-high day included a 45-yard run that was the longest of his career and Ball State's longest of the season.
Ball State scored first on a then-career-long 44-yard field goal by Jackson Courville, with 6:58 remaining in the first period. After Cooper's 1-yard plunge on the second play of the second quarter put Ball State on top 10-0, Courville topped his own career high with a 48-yarder four minutes later.
After Kent State's field goal in the final minute of the first half, it was all Cardinals in the second half, with Kelly engineering Ball State to three consecutive touchdowns on long drives of 75, 89 and 88 yards. Second-half dominance was reflected by Ball State's 15 first downs to just three for Kent State. The Flashes' final first down came on the final play of the third quarter..
-- BSU Athletics -