17 Ball State seniors went out the right way. With a win.
The Cardinals (4-7, 3-4) got 131 on 19 carries from senior Jahwan Edwards, who topped 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season, en route to a 45-30 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-9, 1-6).
It looked like this one would get out of hand early. Ball State raced out to a 28-3 halftime lead thanks to first half rushing scores from Edwards and quarterback Jack Milas, and a pair of Milas touchdown passes to Corey Lacanaria and Jordan Hogue.
The Cardinals continued to roll as the second half began. Ben Ingle returned a fumble, which seemed to pass through the hands of every other member of the Cardinals defense, 5 yards for a score. That extended the Ball State lead to 35-3 before the Eagles attempted to make this one a little more interesting.
On the following drive, Eastern Michigan quarterback Reggie Bell found Tyreese Russell for a 10 yard scoring strike. The quarter ended with a pair of field goals from Dylan Mulder closing the gap to 35-16.
The Cardinals put this one away early in the fourth quarter. Scott Secor kicked off the scoring in the final quarter with a 32 yard field goal. Another Ball State touchdown pass followed, this one from Ozzie Mann to Dylan Curry, before the Eagles tacked on a pair of late touchdown passes from Bell.
Ball State amassed 440 yards of total offense on the day. Milas completed 11 of 17 passes for 169 yards and two scores. In relief, Mann was 4 of 7 for 48 yards and a touchdown. Neither threw an interception.
Seven Cardinals caught passes, led Jordan Williams who totaled 68 yards on 4 catches. KeVonn Mabon was active in the kick return game for Ball State but did not catch a pass.
The Eagles racked up 503 yards of total offense. Bell was active in the air and on the ground. The freshman completed 36 of his 49 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite receiver was Dustin Creel, who caught 14 passes for 152 yards.
Bell was also the only Eastern Michigan rusher of any significance. Bell carried the ball 18 times for 101 yards. The next leading ball carrier for EMU totaled 18 yards.
Turnovers doomed the Eagles in this one. They won the time of possession battle against Ball State, yet coughed up three costly fumbles. The Cardinals did not commit a turnover.
Both teams conclude their seasons next Friday. Ball State wraps things up on the road at Bowling Green. Eastern Michigan returns home where they will host Toledo.