Junior Teddy Williamson is knocked in the air by the defense at the spring game on April 23 at Scheumann Stadium. DN PHOTO KELLEN HAZELIP
Big plays highlight Ball State football 2016 Spring Game
Ball State football’s annual Spring Game had eight touchdowns and no score on a cloudless afternoon in Scheumann Stadium.
The 0-0 finish was the result of contest between the offensive and defensive units. The game wasn’t structured the same way of traditional college football. It featured four 12-minute quarters, a running clock and players playing on for multiple units.
Still, there was no lack of big plays from either side, something that was in head coach Mike Neu’s game plan all along.
Riley Neal - 2 touchdowns
Jack Milas - 1 touchdown
Darian Green - 2 touchdowns
James Gilbert - 2 touchdowns
KeVonn Mabon - 1 touchdown
Aaron Hepp - 1 touchdown
Devin Reece - 1 touchdown
Damon Singleton - 1 touchdown
“I’m an aggressive guy by nature. … I like to take chances and push the ball down the field, calculated risks if you will,” Neu said. “You want to see explosive plays because it’s very difficult to call 10 good plays in a row to work a drive down the field.”
Big plays came both on the ground and through the air for the offense.
The first example was in the first quarter when redshirt senior Aaron Hepp caught a 25-yard pass on the second drive of the game. Later on that possession, sophomore running back James Gilbert became the first to score with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Hepp would finish the game with 119 yards on five receptions and a touchdown. He was one of six players to finish with at least one catch over 10 yards.
Wide receiver coach Alex Bailey was pleased to see the amount of guys who had a reception for the offense.
“I think it was good to see some different guys making plays,” Bailey said. “You got a glimpse of [the offense] today; … we feel like we have some really good playmakers.”
Playmakers weren’t only limited to the offense, however.
In the second quarter, several defensive linemen stopped Teddy Williamson on three straight plays inside the 5-yard line.
To cap off that same quarter, redshirt sophomore linebacker Damon Singleton intercepted the ball at midfield and scored the only defensive touchdown in the game.
The big play was something Neu wants to see in his team as they move into the summer.
“You want to have a game-changer type of play. An interception, sack or forced fumble that can create an extra possession offensively.” Neu said.
The ensuing possession was met with two sacks from the defense to go into halftime, but sophomore quarterback Riley Neal found redshirt senior KeVonn Mabon for the longest offensive connection of the day to start the third quarter.
Mabon broke two tackles for the 65-yard touchdown and his first catch of the day.
“It was awesome to get out here with the guys when we go into full contact with the team,” Mabon said. “They put me in position to make a couple of plays and I did it.”
He would finish with two catches on 102 yards and a touchdown. Neal finished with 229 yards and two touchdowns on his nine completed passes, and Gilbert led the ground game with an 85-yard nine-carry and two-touchdown performance.
Other Cardinals who found the end zone on the day were junior running back Darian Green with two scores as well as redshirt sophomore wide receiver Devin Reece with one.
As a whole, Neu felt like the game was an ideal way to end the spring schedule and move into summer workouts.
“I’m very happy with this spring as a whole. … We rotated guys around and you see how they respond,” Neu said. “I’ve been very pleased with all of our guys and I love the buy-in. The willingness to do whatever we ask them to do has been phenomenal.
“It’s a good starting point for us, and now we have to carry this into the summer.”