The Ball St. Cardinals took a major step towards establishing themselves as the number one contender to Northern Illinois in the MAC West on Saturday. Jahwan Edwards rushed for 89 yards on 20 carries and scored three times leading the Cardinals to a 31-24 win over Toledo in Muncie, Ind..
In a showdown that fully lived up to the hype, Keith Wenning continued his 2013 aerial assault completing 27 of 38 passes for 335 yards. Wenning led the Cardinals to a score on an eight play 75 yard drive to open the game, capped by a two yard touchdown run from Edwards. The Cardinals have now scored on their opening drive in all five games this season, the only school in FBS to do so. Wenning also logged his fifth consecutive 300 yard performance, joining Oregon State's Sean Mannion as the only quarterbacks in FBS with that distinction.
"We came out and started really strong on both sides of the ball," Ball State head coach Pete Lembo said. "We did some good things on special teams early in the game. We tackled really well, especially in the first half. They leaned on us a little bit in the second half but it was still pretty good keeping things in front of us."
The defense had it's hands full with the Rockets. Senior running back David Fluellen carried the ball 27 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. It marks the fourth straight contest Fluellen has rushed for more than 100 yards To date the Cardinals yield an average of 202 yards on the ground, a number that must improve in a conference full of talented backfields.
"We're taking baby steps forward every week," Lembo said. "I'm not saying that we are out of the woods yet, because I don't think that we are.
Kenneth Lee provided a defensive spark for Ball State. The senior linebacker notched his first career interception and added a sack and eight tackles. Lee was named MAC West Defensive Player of the Week for his effort. Lee joins Cardinals Nathan Ollie and Wenning in receiving Player of the Week honors.
"One thing that I will say about our older guys, some of those guys that were around before wins like (Toledo) existed," Lembo said, "those guys really understand how hard it is to beat anybody. Forget about good teams, to beat anybody."
The Cardinals look to be on a collision course with Northern Illinois on November 13th for MAC West supremacy. First though, Ball State will clash with ACC foe Virginia. The Cavaliers defense allows just 152 passing yards a game, good for 8th in the country. The game kicks off in Charlottesville at 12 P.M. on Saturday. Watch the Cardinals try to tally the second MAC win over an automatic qualifier on ESPN3. Chirp, Chirp!