The Ball State Cardinals (1-3) had no answer for the Georgia Southern Eagles (3-1) and their high-flying offense on Saturday afternoon, giving up 530 overall yards and seven touchdowns on seven redzone visits in a 40-3 loss at Sheumann Stadium.
It was never close, as Georgia Southern converted two Ball State three-and-outs into points, with quarterback Davis Brinn finding Evan Lester and Keaton Upshaw for short receiving scores to put the score at 14-0 with 8:47 to go in the first quarter.
The Eagles would force the Cardinals into punting on every one of their six first-half possessions, with four of BSU’s first-half possessions ending in three plays
Georgia Southern would score three more times before the end of the first half, with all nine second-quarter points coming off the boot of placekicker Michael Lantz. The last one was perhaps the most indicative of Ball State’s helplessness; on the last attempt with three seconds remaining, Ball State head coach Mike Neu would call timeout to freeze the kicker.
The kick sailed to the left as the whistle blew on the 37-yard attempt, but on the re-try, it sailed down the middle, putting the halftime deficit at 23-0.
The start of the second half did not treat Ball State any better, once again dropping two three-and-outs on the first two drives. In a curious sense of deja vu, Georgia Southern would convert the second of those quick punts into a touchdown at the 8:47 mark of the third quarter thanks to a 21-yard pass from Brinn to Khaleb Hood to put the score at 30-0.
Michael Lantz wrapped up the third quarter with the last of his field goal attempts to convert an interception in to points, while Davis Brinn would toss his fourth passing touchdown of the game to open the fourth quarter shortly after, finding Anthony Queeley for a short score to go up 40-0.
Ball State would eventually score on their longest play of the contest deep in the fourth quarter, with Jackson Courville kicking a 23-yard field goal to stop the bleeding at 40-3 with 7:15 remaining.
The Cardinals had a tough day as a unit, with true freshman QB Kadin Semonza finishing the day 11-of-23 for 123 yards and two interceptions, while Marquez Cooper was once again kept under wraps with 16 yards on nine carries. Qian Magwood led the BSU receivers with three catches for 47 yards, while Rico Barfield had 50 yards to lead the team on two receptions.
Jordan Riley and Cole Pearce tied for the team lead in total tackles, with Sidney Houston and Tavion Woodard combining for a sack. Jordan Coleman and Jack Beebe both nabbed a tackle-for-loss each. Lucas Borrow had a busy day punting, with 10 boots for 400 yards, including a long punt of 61 yards.
For the Eagles, they got everything they wanted and more. Davis Brinn finished 34-of-46 for 344 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, while OJ Arnold had 90 yards on nine carries to lead all rushers. Khaleb Hood led all receivers with 107 yards and a score on seven receptions. GASO had nine receivers who collected two catches or more, with six receivers going for 30 yards or more.
The Eagles defense as a unit had 10 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, two interceptions, four pass break-ups and four QB hits, an indication of a very busy and productive day. Marc Stampley II led GASO with eight tackles, 2.5 TFLs and a sack on the day, while Jalen Denton and Shermar Bartholomew each hauled in an interception. Elhadj Fall and Jacob Ferguson each had a solo sack.
MIchael Lantz was good on all four of his field goals and all four of his extra points, scoring 16 points off his foot. Lantz’s long was from 41 yards out.
Ball State will look to collect themselves before their league-opening matchup with Western Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. Georgia Southern will play host on Saturday to Coastal Carolina for a conference match of their own, with a scheduled kickoff of 7 p.m. Eastern.