Ball State duo combines for more than 500 rushing yards in 29-27 victory over Eastern Michigan
First, the good.
The Eastern Michigan University football team took its first lead of the season against Ball State University on Saturday, twice led by 14 points, and held the Cardinals to 1 passing yard for the game.
That’s about it for the good.
Ball State senior MiQuale Lewis rushed for 301 yards, and sophomore Cory Sykes added 203 yards, as the Cardinals overcame a two-touchdown disadvantage and won, 29-27, at Rynearson Stadium.
“We had a team down, and we let them back in the game and provided them with momentum,” Eastern Michigan coach Ron English said. “So I can go into all the areas of what happened, but that really is the gist of it.”
But on a third-down play late in the second quarter, Lewis broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run that cut Eastern Michigan's lead to 20-13 at halftime.
“That touchdown they scored right before the half, that was big,” English said. “And that was big, because now you give them momentum back into the game, so you can’t allow that.”
The Eagles seemed to brush it off in the second half. Senior Chris May intercepted a pass on Ball State’s first possession of the third quarter, returning it to the Ball State 29. Four players later, senior DeAnthony White scored on a 10-yard run, making the score 27-13.
But after a 10-yard touchdown run by Sykes, Ball State (1-7, 1-3) blocked a punt in the Eastern Michigan end zone for a safety, making it 27-22 with 5:33 left in the third. Four minutes later, Sykes ran for a 37-yard touchdown, putting the Cardinals up for good.
Ball State coach Stan Parrish, a former University of Michigan assistant, said he never could have imagined winning a game with just a single passing yard.
“No, I couldn’t imagine even being in a game,” he said. “I’m a coach that’s always thrown the ball for a lot of yards. This is a record. We threw for one yard and won.”
For English, who’s still winless in his first season at Eastern Michigan, it was a game of missed chances.
“We didn’t stop the run, and we didn’t convert when we needed to convert.”
James Briggs covers sports for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at 734.623.2557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.