It was a slow start for both teams, as the Eastern Michigan Eagles (5-3, 2-2 MAC West) and Ball State (4-4, 2-2 MAC West) had to feel each other out, with both teams pitching a shut-out in the first quarter. It was ultimately EMU’s day, however, as the Eagles pounced on a vulnerable Ball State side to take home a 20-16 win on Saturday afternoon.
After 15 minutes of scoreless ball in the first frame, Ball State struck first four seconds into to the second quarter on a 75 yard drive that was completed by a seven-yard pass from John Paddock to Carson Steele. Eastern Michigan would knot the game four minutes later with a 76-yard drive of their own which was capped by a Bryson Moss run. Eastern Michigan would go ahead at the end of the first half with a 55-yard field goal by Jesus Gomez to put the halftime score at 10-7 in EMU’s favor.
The 55-yard try by Gomez tied Eastern Michigan’s field goal record, a mark originally set by Dylan Mulder against Miami in 2015. Chad Ryland would match that in 2021 against Ohio.
Ball State would strike again at a little over four minutes into the second half on a Ben VonGoten 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 10. Ball State took the lead six minutes later on a 18-yard pass from John Paddock to Brady Hunt. Ben VonGoten would miss the extra point to make the game 16-10 in favor of the Cardinals.
Eastern Michigan would bring the game within a field goal four minutes into the last stanza with a 38-yard field goal from Jesus Gomez. Sensing blood in the water, EMU managed to pressure John Paddock into tossing an interception. They capitalized on that to take the lead on an Austin Smith two-yard touchdown run, a score which would prove to be the nail in the coffin, as Eastern Michigan would go on to win by a score of 20 to 16.
Eastern Michigan would get two interceptions and one fumble recovery to their zero turnovers. The interceptions were by Quentavius Scandrett and Robert Daniel. The fumble recovery came off a bad snap by Ball State.
By going to 2-2 in the MAC West and a loss by Toledo, Eastern Michigan still finds itself in the hunt for a MAC title, sitting second in the division. Eastern Michigan can help themselves in that effort by defeating the Toledo Rockets when they come to Rynearson on Saturday afternoon.
Ball State falls to 2-2 in the MAC West, falling to fourth via tiebreakers. They will travel Kent State on November 1st.