CFN Take: Ball State Rallies By Bowling Green

Posted Nov 28, 2014

Ball State Cardinals 2014 Season ... Head Coach: Pete Lembo

Ball State Cardinals

2014 Schedule
Record: 5-7

Aug. 30 Colgate W 30-10
Sep. 6 at Iowa L 17-13
Sep. 13 Indiana State L 27-20
Sep. 20 at Toledo L 34-23
Oct. 4 at Army L 33-24
Oct. 11 Western Mich L 42-38
Oct. 18 at Central Mich W 32-29
Oct. 25 Akron W 35-21
Nov. 5 Northern Illinois L 35-21
Nov. 12 at UMass L 24-10
Nov. 22 Eastern Mich W 45-20
Nov. 28 at Bo Green W 41-24
Nov. 28 Ball State 41, at Bowling Green 24
And You Care Because … Bowling Green had already wrapped up the MAC East, but it got up fast with a 21-7 lead on touchdown runs from 75 yards out from Travis Greene, two yards away from Fred Coppet, and a kickoff return for a score from Clint Stephens after Ball State got one the board with a 62-yard KeVonn Mabon scoring grab. It was all Ball State from then on as Jahwan Edwards ran for two short scores and Jordan Williams caught a 16-yard touchdown pass.
What Else? Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards caught 28 passes for 165 yards and two scores
- Bowling Green RB Travis Greene ran 14 times for 159 yards and a score, and Fred Coppet ran 16 times for 140 yards and a touchdown
- Time of possession: Ball State 36:47 – Bowling Green 23:13
- Ball State QB Ozzie Mann completed 20-of-29 passes for 286 yards and three scores, and ran five times for 19 yards
Game Rating: C+

Nov. 22 at Bal State 45, Eastern Michigan 30
And You Care Because … Ball State got up 35-3 with Jack Miles throwing two touchdown passes and running for a three-yard score, and Jahwan Edwards running for a 29-yard touchdown. Tyreese Russell added a ten-yard touchdown catch – along with a brilliant one-handed grab – but that was one of the few highlights with three turnovers and too many key misfires. Just when the Eagles came up with a few good drives to make it somewhat interesting, Ball State took control again in the fourth on a 32-yard Scott Secor field goal and a five-yard Dylan Curry catch. Reginald Ball threw two late touchdown passes for the Eagles.
What Else? Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 19 times for 131 yards and a score
- Eastern Michigan QB Reginald Ball completed 36-of-49 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 18 times for 101 yards
- Eastern Michigan WR Dustin Creel caught 14 passes for 152 yards
- Total yards: Eastern Michigan 503 – Ball State 440
Game Rating: C

Nov. 5 Northern Illinois 35, at Ball State 21
And You Care Because … NIU overcame a 14-14 first half tie with the second of three short touchdown runs from Cameron Stingily and a 21-yard pick six from Anthony Brooks. Ball State wouldn’t go away, marching back fast with good drive finishing with a four-yard Horactio Banks run, but NIU’s defense held on with five takeaways on the game while the O finished up with a late drive and Stingily’s final score.
What Else? Northern Illinois RB Cameron Stingily ran 26 times for 148 yards and three scores
- Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 21 times for 92 yards and a touchdown
- Turnovers: Ball State 5 – Northern Illinois 2
- Time of possession: Northern Illinois 35:50 – Ball State 24:10
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 25 at Ball State 35, Akron 21
And You Care Because … Ball State took advantage of five takeaways to overcome a 21-6 deficit with 29 unanswered points. Scott Secor hit five field goals for the Cardinals, and Jahwan Edwards, Jack Milas and KeVonn Mabon each ran for short scores. Akron got two Conor Hundley touchdown runs and an Anthon Ritossa scoring grab, but the turnovers wouldn’t stop with Tommy Woodson throwing four picks including two to Tyree Holder.
What Else? Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 24 times for 121 yards and a touchdown
- Akron QB Tommy Woodson completed 21-of-39 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown with four picks
- Turnovers: Akron 5 – Ball State 0
- Ball State PK Scott Secor hit five of seven field goals from 46, 20, 23, 37 and 26 yards out
Game Rating: C

Oct. 18 Ball State 32, at Central Michigan 29
And You Care Because … Scott Secor nailed a 55-yard field goal with 17 seconds to play as Ball State shocked the Chippewas. Titus Davis caught a 27-yard touchdown pass early in the third for CMU, and helped tie the game up on an eight-yard catch followed up by a two-point conversion from Cooper Rush. Ball State managed to go 29 yards in the final minutes leading to the Secor bomb, his fourth field goal of the game. Jahwan Edwards ran for two scores for the Cardinals.
What Else? Turnovers: Central Michigan 5 – Ball State 1
- Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 32 times for 98 yards and two scores
- Central Michigan RB Thomas Rawls ran 32 times for 167 yards and a score
- Central Michigan WR Titus Davis caught ten passes for 128 yards and two scores
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 11 Western Michigan 42, at Ball State 38
And You Care Because … Down ten late, Western Michigan rallied with a 54-yard touchdown run from Jarvion Franklin and a 12-yard scoring grab from Daniel Braverman for the lead. It was Franklin’s third touchdown run of the second half, but Ball State held the lead until the final eight minutes on Jack Miles’s fourth touchdown pass of the game. The Cardinals got two first half touchdown catches from Jordan Williams from 32 and 17 yards out, and Jahwan Edwards came up with a two-yard scoring run for a 28-7 lead, but WMU roared back, starting with a 75-yard Corey Davis touchdown catch late in the first half.
What Else? Western Michigan RB Jarvion Franklin ran 24 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns
- Ball State QB Jack Milas completed 26-of-42 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns
- Western Michigan WR Corey Davis caught six passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, and Daniel Braverman caught ten passes for 96 yards and two scores
- Ball State WR Jordan Williams caught 11 passes for 179 yards and two scores
Game Rating: A-

Oct. 4 at Army 33, Ball State 24
And You Care Because … Army got two one-yard touchdown runs from A.J. Schurr in the first quarter, and Daniel Grochowski hit two field goals in the second as Army got up 27-10 going into the fourth quarter. But Ball State wouldn’t go away with Jahwan Edwards running for a six-yard score and Dylan Curry catching a six-yard scoring pass to pull within three, but Angel Santiago and the Knights put it away on an 11-yard touchdown run with under four minutes to go.
What Else? Army QB Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 48 yards, and ran 13 times for 89 yards and a touchdown
- Third down conversions: Army 9-of-15 – Ball State 1-of-8
- Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 12 times for 142 yards and two scores
- Ball State QB Ozzie Mann completed 18-of-26 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown with a pick
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 20 at Toledo 34, Ball State 23
And You Care Because … Logan Woodside threw a touchdown pass and ran for two, and Kareem Hunt and Damion Jones-Moore each ran for short scores as Toledo was in control early and never let up. Ball State pulled within nine in the fourth on the first of two Ozzie Mann’s touchdown passes, but the Jones-Moore run ended it.
What Else? Toledo RB Kareem Hunt ran 12 times for 142 yards and a score
- Toledo QB Logan Woodside completed 13-of-22 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown with a pick and ran seven times for 43 yards and two scores
- Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 21 times for 125 yards
- Toledo outgained Ball State 470 yards to 351
Game Rating: C+

Sept. 13 Indiana State 27, at Ball State 20
And You Care Because … Mike Perish threw three touchdown passes including a 28-yarder to Kyani Harris with under four minutes to play to give Indiana State a stunning win. Ball State rallied back in the third quarter with two Scott Secor field goals, but the Sycamores were able to hang on in the fourth with the Cardinals’ final drive stalling on the ISU eight as time ran out. Each team gained 361 yards.
Game Rating: A

Sept. 6 at Iowa 17, Ball State 13
And You Care Because … Iowa overcame a 13-3 fourth quarter deficit with a 12-yard Derrick Willies touchdown catch with less than three minutes to play, and with a 12-yard Jake Duzey scoring grab in the final minute to avoid disaster. Ball State struggled to move the ball, but took a fumble 35-yard for a touchdown in the second quarter and got two Scott Secor field goals in the third.
What Else? Iowa QB Jake Rudock threw for a career-high 322 yards and two scores, completing 33-of-52 passes. The problem, though, was that he led the team with 36 rushing yards.
- Iowa dominated the game everywhere but on the scoreboard – at least until late. The running game continues to be a massive issue that has to be fixed in a hurry.
- Ball State couldn’t get the O going. Jahwan Edwards ran 21 times for 81 yards, and Ozzie Mann completed 15-of-30 passes for 129 yards.
- Drew Ott came up with 13 tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss with a forced fumble for the Hawkeyes.
Game Rating: B

Aug. 30 at Ball State 30, Colgate 10
And You Care Because … Ball State’s offense worked more around the running game without QB Keith Wenning around anymore, with Jahwan Edwards running for 109 yards and a score on the way to a 30-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. Colgate stayed in the game in the first half. The Cardinals were never threatened after a 19-yard Ozzie Mann to Aaron Hepp late in the first half to spark a 17-point run to put the game away. Colgate was held to just 227 yards of total offense.
Game Rating: D+

2014 Preview 

Ball State, it’s time to win when the lights are on.

It’s been six seasons since Brady Hoke put together a monster that started off the season 12-0, and then it all fell apart losing a shocker to Buffalo in the 2008 MAC championship and getting obliterated by Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl.

Pete Lembo turned the program around and has quietly put together a really, really nice program, going 25-13 in his three years, but the Cardinals got blown away by UCF in the 2012 Beef O’Brady’s, and last year, with everything on the line, they lost to Northern Illinois late in the season, and failed to get by an okay Arkansas State squad in the GoDaddy.com.

But that’s par for the course with the program that’s 0-7 in bowl games and has yet to win a MAC championship in the title game era. It might be tough for Lembo to change that this year.

The depth has been built up enough to keep the Cardinals from going into the tank after losing 11 starters, but they have to replace some very important, very good all-star parts including QB Keith Wenning, WR Willie Snead, TE Zane Fakes and DE Jonathan Newsome.

Is there enough in place to get past Northern Illinois and become the star of the West? To do that, it’s going take a stronger year from a run defense that was never a rock, and it’s going to take the running game to try picking up the slack from a passing game that averaged 324 yards per game, but won’t have the same firepower without Wenning and Snead.

But Lembo has had to deal with worse, creating a winner right away with his no-huddle, hurry-up attack that pushed the ball down the field and keeps defenses on their toes. A winner everywhere he’s been, he went 5-6 in his first year at Elon in 2006 and hasn’t had a losing year since, rolling through four more years at the school before cranking out five winning seasons at Lehigh two in his three years at Ball State, going 6-6 in his first year. He’ll figure it out.

With a good stable of assistants assembled, some nice pieces in place to work around, and a good recent history of success, is this the year Ball State finally gets over the hump? Probably not, but Lembo will make it interesting.

What to watch for on offense: Can the running game balance out the offense a bit? The passing attack dominated when Keith Wenning was at the helm, rolling for 4,214 yards and 35 touchdowns last year and over 3,300 the year before, but he’s gone along with most of the key targets after finishing 12th in the nation through the air. Offensive coordinator Joey Lynch isn’t going to ditch the passing game, but with two of the team’s best players at running back – Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks – and with the line a likely plus, there should be more of an emphasis on cranking up the ground attack a bit more like the 2012 offense that ran for 2,642 yards and threw for 3,302. Last year the O threw for 4,214 yards and ran for 1,985.

What to watch for on defense: The defensive front has secure the interior and needs a pass rusher to replace Jonathan Newsome. The run defense gave up close to 200 yards per game, but it got to the quarterback and got into the backfield. Now the Cardinals have to manufacture more plays with less experience. There’s a little bit of size inside, but if 6-4, 304-pound Carlutorbantu Zaramo isn’t getting the job done on the nose, all of a sudden the line gets small really fast. Darnell Smith is a short, squatty veteran who can hold up at tackle, but the Cardinals have to come up with a good, productive rotation. Nick Miles is a linebacker-sized end on one side, but he benefitted from having Newsome rolling into the backfield on the other, leading the team with eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.

The team will be far better if … the Cardinals find a way to push the ball down the field. That might be tough to do without speedster Willie Snead to stretch the field and Keith Wenning to get it to him, but the Lembo offense works better when it’s moving the passing game deep. Last year the Cardinals averaged 6.6 yards per attempt or fewer three times. One of the games was against Kent State, when Wenning dinked and dunked a bit in a tough 27-24 win. The other two games were the two losses, with Northern Illinois keeping everything in front of the secondary and allowed Wenning to hit the short passes. Against Arkansas State, BSU averaged just 4.9 yards per throw and couldn’t get anything big going. On the year, the Cardinals averaged 8.3 yards per try, but this year it should be more around 6.7, like it was in 2012. However, under Lembo, Ball State has only lost once – Kent State in 2012 - when averaging more than seven yards per attempt.

The schedule: It’s going to be a test in MAC play, but the non-conference schedule isn’t that bad with Colgate and Indiana State early on. There’s also a trip to Iowa – a chance to make some national noise - wrapped around the two layups, and there’s a winnable game at Army after a week off to prepare. The conference season kicks off with a whopper with a West showdown at Toledo on September 20th. While the Northern Illinois game is at home, the key division game against Central Michigan is on the road. There’s a trade-off in interconference play, getting a break by going to UMass and hosting Akron, but the regular season ends with a possible MAC championship preview going to Bowling Green.

Best offensive player: Senior RB Jahwan Edwards. An all-star who helped hold up the running game side of things at times, he came up with 1,110 yards and 14 scores despite missing two games early on hurt. Already the school’s career rushing touchdown leader with 39, he’s a decent-sized, tough back who’s at his best when he can make one cut and go. While he’s not going to run the ball 25 times a game, he can. However, his two biggest workload games of the year came in losses. In a rotation with Horacti Banks to keep the production coming.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Ben Ingle. The defensive front is going to be a work in progress, but the linebacking corps should be a potential strength with good depth and options as a nickel back or a third linebacker depending on the alignment, and with Zack Ryan in the middle and Ingle on the weakside. Ingle is a good-sized pass rusher and big hitter who earned Second Team All-MAC honors with good range and instincts. Consider it a shock if he’s not the team’s leading tackler.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Ozzie Mann or Redshirt Freshman QB Jack Milas. It’s a battle to try replacing Keith Wenning, and there’s no chance the Cardinals will get over 4,000 yards of passing production, but they just need a quarterback option to be decent and not make a slew of big mistakes. Milas is a smallish baller with good, accurate passing skills and a good enough arm to get by. Mann saw a little bit of time last year, but he only completed 2-of-9 passes for 17 yards with a pick. He’s not going to take off and run, and he might be quite as accurate as Milas, but he’s been around just long enough to know what he’s doing. It could be a fight to find the right guy all year.

The season will be a success if … the Cardinals at least get to the MAC title game. They might not be as good as they were last year, and going on the road to deal with Toledo is a tough West game, but they have to shoot for Detroit with just enough in the defensive back seven and with a good line and running game to help ease in the passing attack. The schedule is set up for at least seven wins – as long as there aren’t any brain cramps along the way – but it’s going to take victories over Toledo and Northern Illinois to get to the MAC title game for the first time since 2008.

Key game: Nov. 20 at Toledo. The last two battles between the two – with Ball State winning both – were terrific. The Northern Illinois game could end up being more important for the Cardinals – they’ve lost four in a row to the Huskies - but first they have to get by the Rockets on the road in the MAC opener to set the tone for the rest of the conference season. Win this, and the toughest West road game becomes Central Michigan – that’s not bad. If they can take care of business against Toledo and NIU, the showdown at Bowling Green late won’t matter.

2013 Fun Stats:
- First Half Scoring: Ball State 290 – Opponents 137
- Penalties: Opponents 99 for 841 yards – Ball State 49 for 404 yards
- 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 19-of-31 – Ball State 5-of-14

- 2014 Ball State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

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