Despite the 52-14 score line, it all started innocently enough.
Ball State’s first three offensive plays resulted in negative four yards and a sack as the Toledo (4-3, 1-2 MAC West) defense came up with a quick stop.
But thirty minutes later, Ball State (4-3, 3-0 MAC West) had put the Mid-American Conference on notice.
By the time the buzzer sounded on the end of the first half, Ball State’s offense had racked up 38 points of offense, two trick play touchdowns and almost 400 yards of total offense. Toledo had zero points, just two first downs and 33 yards of offense on 24 plays.
“Really, really proud of the effort, the focus and the attention to detail from the guys from top to bottom,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said.
Ball State scored first after stripping Toledo quarterback Carter Bradley which led to a field goal to take a quick 3-0 lead.
After more successive stops, it became the Plitt to Miller show. Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt found wide receiver Riley Miller for a 24 yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 10-0. On the very next drive, the Cards broke out the trickery with Plitt receiving a lateral after a HB toss and throwing it 39 yards to find Miller again in the end zone.
Those two touchdown passes would be two of the three that he tossed on the day as the redshirt junior finished 11-of-17 for 206 yards and an interception.
The rushing attack was pivotal in Ball State’s balanced offensive attack. The rushing game finished with nearly 400 yards in the win, led by Caleb Huntley who picked up 119 yards on 20 carries. Malik Dunner touched the ball only twice on offense and scored long touchdowns each time, finishing with 90 yards.
“The offensive line has just been doing their thing all season,” Huntley said. “And they did that today. The guys know we have their back and they’ve got ours as well.”
Now Ball State is 3-0 in the MAC for the first time since 2013 and it becomes the only team undefeated in conference play after Kent State’s 45-38 loss to Ohio earlier today. The win is also the Cardinals first win against the Rockets since the same year.
Two of the three conference wins came against teams picked to finish first and second in the western division in Toledo and Northern Illinois. Ball State now has a two-game lead on both teams with the tiebreaker in hand.
“It was just all about execution,” Neu said. “The attitude, the next play mindset was there. The guys when they came off the field were just about keeping going and had the look of determination, the look of confidence.”
Next up, Ball State hosts defending MAC Champion Ohio while Toledo returns home to play Eastern Michigan.