Labor Day weekend meant long road trips for Ball State athletics.

Football went down to Georgia and beat Georgia State 31-21 in its season opener. Cross country finished third in the Butler Open in Carmel. Field hockey split its games in Louisville, soccer dropped two games in its California road trip and women's volleyball fell to 0-7 on the season.

Football

The Cardinals overcame early miscues to beat Georgia State (0-1) 31-21.

Quarterback Riley Neal threw interceptions on Ball State's first two drives, but the offense responded by racking up 325 rushing yards while the defense limited the Panthers to 272 total yards.

Sophomore running back James Gilbert broke out for 161 yards with two touchdowns, and junior Darian Green added 93 yards and another score. Both players finished the game with more rushing yards than all of Georgia State's players combined (77 team rushing yards).

Ball State travels to Bloomington Sept. 10 to face Indiana University (1-0). The Cardinals have won their last three games against the Hoosiers, though the two programs haven't squared off since 2012.

Cross country

The Cardinals finished third in the Butler Open, their first meet of the season.

Ball State will be fielding a young team this season, with eight freshmen on its 16-person roster. In the Butler Open, four of the Cardinals five scored-runners (teams enter more than five runners, but only the top five finishers count toward the team standings) were new to the program.

Freshman Hannah Cummings was the first Ball State runner over the finish line, finishing fourth overall with a time of 19:06.3. Emily Tromp, also a freshman, finished with a time of 19:12.2, finishing seventh.

Sophomore transfer Stephanie McElhaney (13th, 19:33.7), junior Jessica Bryzek (14th, 19:36.9) and freshman Lauren Whitehouse (15th, 19:42.4) rounded out the scoring for the Cardinals.

Ball State's next meet is the Indiana Intercollegiate, held Sept. 16 at Indiana University.

Field hockey

After winning their three games, the Cardinals already have more wins than they did in the entire 2015 season.

Ball State beat Brown University 2-1 in overtime Sept. 2 to win its third game. Last year, the Cardinals finished 2-17. Sophomore midfielder Anya Eicher scored both goals, including the game-winner with three minutes left in overtime.

Sept. 3, the University of Richmond topped the Cardinals 1-0. Though she took the loss, senior goalkeeper Jordan Dues recorded five saves to keep the game tight. Ball State is now 3-1 on the season.

The field hockey team takes on Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, in its next game on Sept. 9.

Soccer

Ball State (3-2-1) lost for the first time this year, dropping games to Cal State Northridge (3-1-1), 1-0, and Loyola Marymount (3-1-1), 4-0.

Loyola's four goals are the most the Cardinals have given up in a game this season.

The team was outshot for the first time this season against Cal State Northridge and was outshot again against Loyola Marymount.

Ball State was also shut out for the first and second times this season.

The Cardinals' next game will be Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Louisville. The team will wrap up its non-conference schedule Sept. 16 against Morehead State at 5 p.m. in Muncie.

Women's volleyball

Ball State fell to 0-7 on the season after dropping three games in the Omaha Classic, held in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Cardinals lost their first game Sept. 2 against host Omaha 3-2 (21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 19-25, 13-15). Redshirt junior Sabrina Mangapora led the Cardinals with a career-high 20 kills.

Drake beat Ball State 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-18) later that night. The Cardinals were held to a .121 hitting percentage, while the Bulldogs had a .231 hitting percentage.

Sept. 3, the Cardinals lost to South Dakota 3-1 (25-13, 21-25, 26-24, 25-19). Sophomore Brooklyn Goodsel set a career high with 17 kills, and with just two errors she racked up a .484 hitting percentage.

Ball State hosts Butler University in its next game Sept. 7 in Worthen Arena at 7 p.m.