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2023 MAC Football Week 6 Game Recap: Eastern Michigan Eagles 24, Ball State Cardinals 10

Eastern wins on Homecoming Weekend, downing Ball State with ease.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 UMass at Eastern Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ball State Cardinals (1-5, 0-2 MAC) traveled to Ypsilanti, Michigan in the hopes of getting their second win of the season. The Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-3, 1-1 MAC) were looking to make sure they didn’t lose three in a row.

Something had to give with all the bad energy in the air, and on this day, it was the Cardinals’ frail defense.

After exchanging field goals in the first quarter, the Eagles would take the lead on a 65-yard drive that was capped by a two yard run by Samson Evans at the two minute mark in the second quarter. The Eagles would strike again on a 62-yard drive that was ended by a three yard pass from Austin Smith to J.B. Mitchell III.

Ball State would answer those two touchdowns with a touchdown of their own with a little over two minutes left in the half, but the Eagles would get their security touchdown in the third quarter on a 50-yard pass from Austin Smith to Hamze El-Zayat through a soft zone which ultimately brought the score to 24-10— the final score— just over four minutes into the second half.

Eagles quarterback Austin Smith of the Eagles would finish the game 18-of-28 passing for 192 yards and two touchdowns, with no picks. The Cardinals would play two quarterbacks, with Layne Hatcher (20-of-33, 132 yards, one touchdown) and Kiael Kelly splitting reps. Kelly finished 1-of-2 passing with a 26-yard completion, while also leading the Cards in rushing with 94 yards.

The Eagles only got 61 yards on the ground with 42 of them coming from Samson Evans. The Cardinals had a decent day on the ground with 148 yards, with Kelly as the dynamo. Marquez Cooper had six carries for 46 yards.

On defense, the Cardinals would record nine tackles for loss and five sacks. Conversely, the Eagles had five tackles for loss with three of those coming from sacks. Neither team had any turnovers.

Mitchell Tomasek would continue his trends in punting by averaging 42.4 yards with one of those going for 70 yards. Ball State punter Lucas Borrow averaged 37.2 yards with his longest being 49 yards.

The Eagles improve their league record to 1-1 after the loss to Central Michigan last week, and sit tied with two other teams in the MAC West standings. Ball State falls to 0-2 in the league, one of four such teams in the MAC thus far in 2023— but the only one in the West division.

The Eagles stay at Rynearson Stadium next Saturday, the Kent State Golden Flashes at noon Eastern time. The Cardinals return to Muncie, Indiana, where they face the West-leading Toledo Rockets at 2 p.m. Eastern time, also next Saturday.