Ball State win against Virginia leaves coach at loss for words
The Daily News
In three years at Ball State, the head coach has seen his team beat Bowl Championship Series teams three times and win on the road against the top Mid-American Conference programs. But Lembo wasn’t shy to claim Saturday’s win as one of the biggest in Ball State history.
“I’m not usually speechless, but I’m pretty darn close,” Lembo said. “It’s going to take a while for this one to really sink in. But this has to be the biggest win in the history of Ball State football in 90 years.”
The win marked Ball State’s fourth BCS win in three years.
“But nothing compares to this,” Lembo said. “Coming on the road to Virginia, beating an [Atlantic Coast Conference] opponent — a team with the caliber of athletes that they have and the fact that we are very much depleted.”
The team was riddled with injuries heading into the game and lost more players throughout.
Linebackers Chris Calloway and Ben Ingle missed the game. In Ingle’s place, sophomore Trent Toothman started at middle linebacker.
Freshman safety Martez Hester also missed the game with an ankle injury.
Wide receivers sophomore KeVonn Mabon and junior Chris Shillings were out. Mabon is out for the year with a collarbone injury. Senior wide receiver Connor Ryan played, but he was limited with a thumb injury.
Junior safety Brian Jones played despite having a shoulder injury. Jones led the game with 12 total tackles and one forced fumble.
Lembo said senior cornerback Jeff Garrett had a “pretty good shoulder bruise.” Garrett started and played extensively throughout the game. He had the game’s only interception.
“We were going into this game shorthanded,” Lembo said. “We lost some other guys as the game went on. Some guys fought to get back in.”
Lembo said he was forced to play freshman linebacker Stu Stanley on special teams due to injuries. Stanley was originally supposed to be redshirted, which had to be used up Saturday.
“If you would’ve told me back in August that we’d have seven or eight guys out that have played a lot of football, that we’d beat these guys by three scores, I don’t know if I would’ve had an answer for you,” he said.
Junior wide receiver Willie Snead started the game, but left due to dehydration issues, according to the game’s broadcast.
Snead was seen after the game standing by the locker room.
“As the adversity grew in this game, our guys came closer and closer together,” Lembo said.
Not only was it a big win for Ball State, it was a record-breaking one as well.
Senior quarterback Keith Wenning broke the Ball State record for most passing yards in a career, passing Nate Davis, who played from 2006-08.
The record-breaking pass came from a 72-yard touchdown throw to sophomore Jordan Williams in the fourth quarter.
Junior running back Jahwan Edwards also broke a Ball State record during the game. Edwards scored three touchdowns for the third straight game, bringing his career total to 35 and giving him the Ball State most touchdowns rushing career record.
He passed Marcus Merriweather, who played from 1999-2002.
Ball State, now 5-1, moves just one win shy of becoming bowl eligible.
“This is big, folks,” Lembo said. “This is big.“