IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Ball State football team came up a few plays shy of another signature win Saturday as Iowa came back in the fourth quarter for a 17-13 win at Kinnick Stadium.
The Cardinals, who were seeking to defeat a power conference team for the fourth straight season, fell to 1-1 on the year, while the Hawkeyes improved to 2-0.
“This was an Iowa football game,” Ball State head coach Pete Lembo said. “They stick to their plan, they don’t panic, they don’t give up cheap ones, and they wear you down in the second half. That is what they did to us on both sides of the ball.”
The game was a defensive battle with Ball State giving up only a field goal through most of the afternoon to take a 13-3 lead into the closing minutes.
But Iowa managed to score touchdowns on its final two drives of the day. A 12-yard pass from Jake Rudock to Derrick Willies cut the Ball State lead to three points with 2:52 to play, and the Cardinals then went three-and-out before giving the ball back to Iowa at the Hawkeyes’ 41-yard line with 2:23 left.
Rudock then engineered a six-play drive and capped it with another 12-yard touchdown pass, this time to Jake Duzey, giving Iowa its only lead of the day. Ball State got the ball back with one minute to play, but quarterback Ozzie Mann was hit and fumbled. Iowa recovered to seal the comeback win.
“Late in the game when they went to basically everything through the air, that is when we started giving up yards in chunks,” Lembo said. “We were not able to get a great pass rush late, and the two scores were the result of some technique and mental issues.”
Ball State’s defense kept the Cardinals in the lead throughout the day. Three times Ball State stood strong in the red zone to force field goal attempts the Hawkeyes missed. It was even the defense that produced the team’s lone touchdown when sophomore lineman Blake Dueitt returned an Iowa fumble 35 yards for the first score of the day.
An Iowa field goal late in the first half ended the shutout and sent the teams to the locker room with Ball State on top, 7-3. Scott Secor then connected on two field goals in the third quarter to push the Ball State lead to 10 points before the Hawkeyes’ comeback. The second field goal was set up when the Ball State special teams created a turnover on the kickoff that followed the first.
In the end, the Cardinals could not generate the offense they needed, finishing the day with 219 total yards.
“In a game like this, there is very little margin for error,” Lembo said. “You know that going in, so every mistake you make will get magnified. Against a team like this, you have to play an extremely clean football game, and in all three phases we did some good things and we competed, but we did not play a clean enough football game.”
Ball State returns to Scheumann Stadium on Saturday for a 3 p.m. kickoff against Indiana State before opening Mid-American Conference play at Toledo, Sept. 20.