MUNCIE, Ind. — The Ball State football team scored 29 unanswered points Saturday to overcome a 15-point second-quarter deficit on the way to a 35-21 victory over Akron.
Scott Secor set a Scheumann Stadium record with five field goals and the Cardinals generated five turnovers for the second consecutive week. Ball State won its second straight to improve to 3-5 (2-2 Mid-American Conference), while Akron fell to 4-4 (2-2 MAC).
“This was one of those days that ages you as a coach, but at least we got the result we wanted,” Ball State head coach Pete Lembo said. “I am very proud of our guys and how they played, especially in the second half.
“It took a little conjuring at halftime, but this is a really good group of guys. It’s a young group that is still learning. The thing I feel good about is they know where they are at and they know we have to stay after it to get the kind of performance we want.”
After Akron scored three touchdowns in its first four possessions, the Ball State defense buckled down and shut the Zips out on only 111 yards the rest of the way. A pair of Secor field goals provided the only Ball State points until KeVonn Mabon went 13 yards on a reverse for a touchdown to make it a one possession game at 21-13 shortly before halftime.
The second half is when the game truly changed. Ball State forced all five of its turnovers after the break and added a blocked punt, setting up its offense in Akron territory on six of eight possessions in the second half.
The Cardinals settled for two more field goals from Secor to trim the Akron lead to 21-19 just one play into the fourth quarter. Then Quintin Cooper recovered a fumbled punt at the Akron 29-yard line, and Ball State quarterback Jack Milas scored two plays later on a 5-yard run. A two-point attempt failed, but the Cardinals had their first lead since the early going at 25-21.
“This one was not always pretty; there were a lot of highs and lows,” Lembo said. “The one thing that is important is that these guys aren’t quitting even when it isn’t as pretty or as clean as we like it to be. They keep fighting, they keep battling and these coaches keep coaching them hard. I am just really proud of how we responded in the second half.”
Teddy Williamson blocked a punt on the next Akron possession, and the Cardinals converted four plays later on Jahwan Edwards‘ 47th career touchdown run to extend the lead. Then a Tyree Holder interception led to Secor’s fifth and final field goal of the day to cap the scoring.
Ben Ingle, Zack Ryan and Eric Patterson also had interceptions for Ball State, which owns a 10-1 advantage in turnover margin over the past two games. Patterson has been responsible for creating four of the 10 turnovers.
Secor attempted seven field goals on the day, making five of them to set a career high and tie the Ball State single-game record. The senior who had four field goals and a game-winning 55-yarder last week at Central Michigan, became the first kicker in the country to reach 20 field goals this season.
Edwards, who became Ball State’s all-time leading rusher last week, added 121 more yards to his total. It was his 16th career 100-yard rushing game, the second-most in Ball State history behind Marcus Merriweather’s 19. Milas threw for 225 yards on the day, while Jordan Williams led the Ball State receivers with eight catches for 118 yards.
Ball State now has 10 days off before returning to action Wednesday, Nov. 5 against Northern Illinois. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Scheumann Stadium.