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Cardinals run away from injury-riddled Bobcats in 4th quarter

Huynh, Jones hurt in 52-27 loss to Cardinals

Lonnie McMillan Photo
MUNCIE, Ind. – Defensive tackles Neal Huynh and Carl Jones went down with injuries on the same plate late in the first half and the Ohio football team went down with its third loss in four games as Ball State racked up 357 rushing yards and 588 yards overall, pulling away with a 52-27 victory at Scheumann Stadium on Wednesday night.

Jahwan Edwards rushed 17 times for 169 yards and Horactio Banks added 14 catches for 135 yards as Ball State scored the final three touchdowns in the game to take control of what was a close game for more than three quarters.

“We put 27 on the board and sometimes 27 is good enough to win, but not against a team like this,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “… I don’t think we blocked or tackled all that well this game, and as the game went on, it just seemed like we faltered a little bit more in those areas.”

Ohio (8-3, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) matched Ball State (8-3, 5-2 MAC) offensively for most of the game, but it had to settle for a 34-yard Matt Weller field goal with 12:15 remaining, leaving it down, 31-27.

Jamil Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards and a pair of 15-yard penalties moved Ball State all the way down to the 23-yard line. It was all downhill after that for Ohio, as Banks broke a 23-yard run that gave the Cardinals a 38-27 lead.

Backup quarterback Kelly Page, who replaced Keith Wenning when he was injured in the first half, threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Zane Fakes and Edwards added a 28-yard touchdown run to add to the final margin.

Just as the game turned quickly against the Bobcats, so has the season.

“I don’t really know how to put it into words,” Ohio running back Beau Blankenship said. “It just fell apart. We’ve just got to come together and we’ve just got to refocus and just figure some stuff out because this is not the team that we are. We can play better than this. We should be playing better than this. We’ve just got to fix it.”

Blankenship had 161 yards on 21 carries, helping the Bobcats keep pace with the Cardinals early. In fact, his 58-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the second half gave the Bobcats a 24-21 lead.

But Ball State had an answer with Edwards, who on the first play from scrimmage afterward, busted a 68-yard run to the Ohio 3-yard line. Paige threw a 3-yard score to Fakes to put the Cardinals on top for good.

Weller missed a 27-yard field goal and Steven Schott made a 38-yarder late in the third quarter to put the score at 31-24.

Ohio had a chance to take a lead into the locker room, executing a two-minute drive well before time expired, just like it did in a 23-20 loss to Miami that started the team’s swoon. As was the case against the RedHawks, quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked and time ran out, although this time controversially.

With the Bobcats out of timeouts, Brandon Newman brought down Tettleton in the backfield, but this time, Ohio had its field goal team ready. They sprinted out to try to get a field goal attempt off, but officials blew their whistles to indicate the end of the half as the Bobcats snapped the ball.

Ball State headed for the locker room, but a review was called and it was determined Ohio did get the snap off in time. A second was put on the clock and the Bobcats were going to have a chance to follow through with the field goal try, but play was stopped for a second review.

This time, officials determined Ohio should have been required to give Ball State time to match its personnel substitutions, and in doing so, the clock should have expired.

Even though things did not work out again, Solich said he still felt it was the right decision to take a shot at the end zone with 12 seconds left from the 15-yard line.

“In this ball game, No. 1, I didn’t feel like field goals were going to win it,” he said. “They proved to be too good of an offensive football team throughout the course of the year and they’re playing on top of their game now. … I thought it was the right decision at my end. You have plenty of time if you operate it right, you have a chance to score a touchdown. If you throw it away, then you have a chance to kick a field goal because the clock will stop. That’s the plan. The plan did not work.”

Tettleton tried to scramble and make a play, leading to the sack that allowed the clock to run out against Miami. This time was different.

“I took three and there’s a guy right in my face,” he said. “There’s really nothing I can do.”

The teams traded the lead most of the first half after Weller connected on a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter to open up scoring. Wenning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to KeVon Mabon and Blankenship answered with a 1-yard run.

Willie Sneed caught a 42-yard touchdown pass, Blankenship scored on a 2-yard run – set up by a Daz Patterson 68-yard reception – and Page ran in a score from 7 yards out on his first play after coming in for Wenning.

Tettleton was 22-of-30 passing for 236 yards, but he did sit out a series with Ohio trailing by 11 in the fourth quarter because of an injury suffered earlier in the game, according to Solich.

The Bobcats reached the top 25 after a 7-0 start, but with injuries continuing to mount, things are not going in the right direction.

“We need to realize we are still 8-3,” Ohio defensive lineman Corey Hasting said. “We might not feel like it after this loss, but we’re still 8-3 and a lot of teams around the country would want to be 8-3. As hard as it is right now, we need to focus on that and try to come out and get to 9-3 and try to get to a bowl game.”

Ohio closes out its regular season next Friday at Kent State.

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