MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Devon Spalding ran for 157 yards and a touchdown and the Central Michigan Chippewas delivered the big plays late on Saturday in downing Ball State, 24-21, before 20,044 on homecoming day at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The Chippewas rebounded from a stinging 49-10 home loss to rival Western Michigan last week in improving to 4-2 overall, 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference. Ball State is 3-3, 0-2.
“We have a lot of . . .
“You can’t sulk and lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself. You have to man up, face the facts, and come back to work and work to fix the things that need to be fixed. We’re still very much in the thick of this. I’m very happy to come out of this with the win. I think it was a gritty performance by our guys on both sides of the ball.”
The Chippewa cornerbacks delivered two critical plays in the fourth quarter. The first was a Josh Cox interception, which he returned 33 yards to extend CMU’s lead to 10 points, 24-14, early in the quarter; the second came when Amari Coleman intercepted a long Riley Neal pass in the end zone with 1:37 left to preserve a 24-21 lead.
Two plays later, Spalding raced 52 yards into Ball State territory to ice it.
CMU quarterback Cooper Rush completed 21 of 32 pass attempts for 269 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked five times by the Cardinals a week after Western Michigan registered eight sacks against the Chippewas.
“I’m not happy with Cooper Rush getting hit as many times as he did,” Bonamego said. “We have some work to do, and I think part of that is a good game plan by Ball State and some of it’s probably still scabs left over from last week, and it’s easy to pick those off.
“You put stuff on film and in a good league against good people, they’re going to keep attacking those areas until you completely show that you can shut things down. We’re happy with the win but I think there’s still some areas where we need to play better.”
Ball State quarterback Riley Neal threw for 174 yards on 18-of-30 passing with one touchdown. The Cardinals’ James Gilbert rushed for 141 yards and two TDs.
NEXT: Both teams return to action Saturday, Oct. 15. Central Michigan will be at Northern Illinois (3:30 p.m. ET). Ball state travels to Buffalo (3:30 p.m. ET).