This Saturday was Statement Saturday for both the Akron Zips and the Ball State Cardinals at InfoCision Stadium. For both squads, it was a chance to say that the rest of 2017 was going to be far different than the first half. After a wire-to-wire win on the strength of three turnovers, Akron made another statement: The path to the MAC East Division now runs right through the Zips.
Though expected to be an exciting Mid-American Conference affair, once the Zips (3-3 2-0 MAC) took the lead behind a Thomas Woodson 24-yard TD pass with just under four minutes gone in the first quarter they would never look back. Woodson would finish the day with 211 yards and two scores. His chief target, A.J. Coney would finish with 6 catches and 90 yards.
For Ball State (2-4 0-2 MAC), this was the latest example that demonstrates just how bare the Cardinals’ cupboard is. After cobbling together a lineup to replace the mounting injuries of this 2017 season, the lack of skill and talent was exceptionally evident. Though freshman running back Caleb Huntley performed admirably in star James Gilbert’s absence, racking up 129 yards on 25 carries, the Cardinal offense looked anemic most of the afternoon and failed to find the endzone. Throw in three interceptions from Jack Milas, playing for an injured Riley Neal, and a win was near impossible. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 6 INTs and zero passing touchdowns for Jack Milas this year in relief of Neal, whose injury, timeline, and status is still a mystery.
The Zips now sit undefeated atop the MAC East standings and the Cardinals are reeling, winless in the MAC and fresh off the worst loss of Mike Neu’s career last week and now this. It’s a tale of two fortunes and futures for both these teams.
Akron is back in action next week on the road against the Western Michigan Broncos. For Ball State, they have a bye week next week and will return to the field October 21 against the Central Michigan Chippewas, winners today against the Ohio Bobcats.