This isn't what Pete Lembo's squad needed.
After losing in heart-breaking fashion in Iowa City last week, the last thing Ball State (1-2) wanted, happened. The Cardinals lost another heart-stopping affair, this time to FCS squad Indiana State (2-1), 27-20.
With the game on the line and under two minutes left, Ball State got the ball back and Ozzie Mann was faced with another opportunity to lead Ball State to a late comeback. The Cardinals began to quickly work themselves deep into ISU territory before they were faced with a fourth-and-three in deep Sycamore territory. Mann stepped up and fired a bullet to KeVonn Mabon, who grabbed the pass and got four yards to move the chains.
Three plays later, the Cardinals worked themselves into a first-and-goal situation with under 30 seconds left. On first down Mann threw incomplete to Shillings who was well covered at the near, left side pylon. Mann took the snap on second-down and decided to run. After coming up well short of the goal line, and with no timeouts, the Cardinals quickly raced to the line. It is likely that Ball State would have been able to snap the ball, but before the ref could place it, he lost control of the ball, and by the time the ball was put at the line of scrimmage, Indiana State had began celebrating their first win over a FBS-level opponent since September 2011, when the Trees beat Western Kentucky.
The struggle to stop the Sycamores started early in the game, when Ball State allowed Indiana State to rumble down the field to a quick 3-0 ISU lead after the game's first possession. The Cards quickly responded with a touchdown after a 61-yard kickoff return set up Ball State at the ISU 35 for their first possession. The teams would then trade several three-and-outs before Ball State got on the board again as Mann found Jordan Hogue on a 23-yard connection to give BSU their largest lead of the game.
But that would be all the Cardinals would score until after halftime. Indiana State came back firing when got the ball back. Sycamore quarterback Mike Perish found wideout A.J Johnson on a 25-yard pass to put ISU back within four points. Indiana State scored one more touchdown right before halftime as Perish found fullback Isaac Beverstock with four seconds left until the break. With the PAT, the Sycamores went into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.
The teams would begin the second half scoring by trading field goals, before Scott Secor made from 25 yards away to tie the game at 20. Two Indiana State drives later, the Sycamores moved the football down the field and kicker Eric Heidorn missed a 33-yard attempt that would have given the Trees a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter.
The missed kick proved to give no momentum to Ball State as the Cardinals went three-and-out after the missed field goal.
The Sycamores showed they were hungry for an upset on the next possession. On third-and-17, Indiana State picked up 16 yards and decided to go for it on fourth-and-one. Halfback Buck Logan plowed forward for nine yards and a first down on the critical fourth down. Three plays later Perish found Kyani Harris for a 28-yard score that wound up winning the game.
Ball State ran just four plays after the kickoff and punted back to Indiana State with just 2:17 left. The Cardinals quickly forced a stop, and ISU punted back with 2:01 left, setting up the wild last possession for Ball State.
Indiana State heads to Liberty next week, while Ball State travels to the Glass Bowl to face Toledo in the MAC opener for both teams.