The history of bowl game misery continued on Sunday night for the Ball St. Cardinals. Despite a very successful 10-win season, the Cardinals fell to the Arkansas St. Red Wolves, 23-20, in the 2013 GoDaddy Bowl and sealed the fate of the Mid-American Conference. With the loss, the MAC concludes the 2013-2014 bowl season with an 0-5 record. It's the league's first winless postseason since 2008-2009.
Coincidentally, Ball State also capped off that 0-5 bowl season with a loss in the GMAC (now GoDaddy) Bowl.
|(Click link for BOX SCORE)||1Q||2Q||3Q||4Q||FINAL|
|Arkansas St. Red Wolves||0||10||6||7||23|
|Ball St. Cardinals||7||3||0||10||20|
After scoring a go-ahead touchdown with just 93 seconds remaining in regulation, the Cardinals allowed the Arkansas St. Red Wolves to march the length of the field for what proved to be the game-winning score. Then, to add insult to injury, Ball State's attempt at a game-tying field goal was blocked as time expired.
All that occurred at the close of a fantastic back-and-forth game in which the spread was never more than seven points. Ball State scored the game's first points on a touchdown late in the first quarter, as Willie Snead caught a nine-yard pass from Keith Wenning to cap a 14-play, 89-yard drive. The Cardinals held that lead, as the teams exchanged second-quarter field goals, until Arkansas State tied the game by scoring their first touchdown with less than one minute remaining in the first half. Sirgregory Thornton capped ASU's best drive to that point (nine plays, 63 yards) with a one-yard touchdown plunge.
In the second half, the Red Wolves kicked two third-quarter field goals to take a 16-10 lead. The Red Wolves took the second half kickoff and drove 63 yards in 12 plays before being held to an 18-yard kick. Ball State then gave them another golden opportunity when Pete Lembo chose to go for it on 4th-and-2 from their own 33. The play failed, and Arkansas State kicked another field goal.
The Cardinals finally got their offense going late in the third quarter. With 1:39 left in the frame, they took over at their own 8 yard line and drove 72 yards for a field goal of their own. The drive was helped by an important pass interference call against Arkansas State, and Scott Secor cut the ASU lead in half with a 37-yard boot with 12:58 left on the game clock. The Cardinals immediately forced a three-and-out by Arkansas State and took over on their own 31 with a chance to tie or take the lead. Unfortunately, Wenning was intercepted by Qushaun Lee on third down, and Lee returned the ball to the Cardinals' 8.
Game over, right? Not quite. Back-up quarterback Fredi Knighten returned the favor on third-and-goal. He rolled to the right and threw into the end zone, where Ball State's Eric Patterson was waiting to pick off the pass. The interception gave Lembo's bunch new life, and they took advantage of it. Wenning led a 16-play, 80-yard drive that took 6:59 off the clock, and Jahwan Edwards capped the march with a one-yard touchdown run. The score gave Ball State a 20-16 lead and hopes of finally earning the school's first-ever bowl win.
Sadly, Arkansas State was not finished. Secor's kickoff was short, to the 15, and the Red Wolves returned it to their own 41. Knighten took immediate advantage, as passes to Julian Jones and J.D. McKissic went for 11 and 26 yards, respectively. On 2nd-and-4 from the 13, Knighten connected on his third completion of the drive. This time, it went to Allen Muse for a 13-yard touchdown and a 23-20 lead for the Red Wolves.
The ensuing kickoff was returned to the Cardinals' 36, and Ball State had 28 seconds and three timeouts in which to navigate into field goal range. Wenning got the Cardinals to the ASU 46 with just six seconds left, then completed a pass to Snead for ten yards with just two seconds left. However, on the completion, Andrew Tryon was called for a late hit out-of-bounds on Snead, and the penalty moved the ball to the 21. This gave Secor a much-closer 38-yard field goal attempt to tie the game.
It was just not meant to be. Secor's kick as time expired was blocked by Ryan Carrethers, and the Red Wolves escaped with a dramatic 23-20 win.
Ball State was held to 363 yards of offense and only 4.4 yards per play. Wenning had one of his worst days of the season, as he threw for just 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Jahwan Edwards answered the call on the ground, however, with 146 yards on 28 carries, one of which went for a touchdown. Willie Snead caught nine passes for 87 yards and Wenning's only touchdown pass. Despite scoring only 20 points, the Cardinals racked up 27 first downs and were 9-for-18 on third down.
Arkansas State accumulated just 331 yards of offense and only 129 yards through the air. Nearly half of that passing total came on the Red Wolves' final touchdown drive. However, they ran for 202 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Knighten led the way with 97 yards on 19 carries. He also passed for 115 yards. He played the entire second half after replacing starter Adam Kennedy, who left with an injury. McKissic caught nine balls for 72 yards.