The Ball State defense pressures Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside during the game against Toledo at the Glass Bowl on Sept. 21. DN PHOTO JONATHAN MIKSANEK
FOOTBALL: Fourth quarter woes plague Cardinals all season
The Ball State football team has struggled in the fourth quarter all season.
The Cardinals have not only struggled to score, but they have also been unable to keep their opponents out of the end zone.
In their seven losses, the Cardinals have managed just 28 fourth quarter points, compared to 69 for their opponents.
Head coach Pete Lembo doesn't just see this as a one-quarter problem, however.
"I don't think we've scored enough points in any quarter this year," Lembo said.
Of the 246 points the Ball State offense has scored this year, only 50 have come in the fourth.
While Ball State's fourth-quarter inefficiencies have not been the only issue this season, it has been one of the most repetitive.
Time of possession has been another troublesome facet in the quarter, as the Cardinals have averaged holding the ball for a mere 6:25 minutes compared to their opponents' 8:34.
The fact Ball State has trailed heading into the fourth quarter in 60 percent of its games has affected its time of possession.
"If you're behind [in the fourth], you're typically throwing the ball more and the opponent's running it," Lembo said. "So, time of possession can be somewhat misleading."
Misleading or not, the two times the Cardinals have led in time of possession in the fourth, they won.
Another fourth-quarter struggle that has plagued Ball State all season has been its 34.3 percent efficiency on third down. Not picking up first downs leads to short drives and a tired defense.
"There have been games where we needed to stay on the field longer in the fourth," Lembo said. "If your defense is on the field 80 plays, 85 plays, they're going to get worn down."
Ball State's defense has spent 62.3 percent of time in the game's final quarter on the field.