Cards pick up 3rd straight win

Lynch, players keep momentum moving while on road.

Storrs, Conn. -- In Saturday's football game between Ball State and the Connecticut, Cardinal head coach Bill Lynch purposely let the Huskie defense force a safety on Ball State, essentially handing Connecticut two points.

But, he did it so his team would win.

With six seconds on the game clock, Ball State was forced to punt the ball away from its own endzone. Instead of allowing Connecticut the opportunity to block the kick, Reggie Hodges let the Huskies chase him out of the endzone. Hodges move gave Connecticut the safety, but gave Ball State a 10-5 victory.

The win sets the Cardinals' record at 3-4 overall, and they remain the Mid-American Conference West division leader at 2-0 despite the fact the game against Connecticut was a non-conference game.

The record was not the reason Saturday's win was important for the Cardinals. Lynch, along with his players, just wanted to keep the momentum moving while on the road.

"When you start to gain a little momentum, you will take any win," Lynch said. "Particularly in a tough environment."

That tough environment came with mostly cloudy skies, eliminating the sunshine which served as the only source of heat in the crisp, cold, 15 to 25 mile per hour winds.

The win for the Cardinals marked the second-lowest scoring game for Ball State for the season, except the game against Auburn when the Cards were shutout. Ball State also allowed the least points to an opponent all season while the defense held the Huskies to only three points -- a field goal in the first quarter -- the only time Connecticut lead the game.

Defensive end Rachman Crable was please with the way he and his fellow Cardinal defenders performed Saturday.

"It's still a team game," Crable said. "But I do think the defense played really well today. We only gave up three points.

"We played a lot better, better than last week. We've been working really hard in practice, and I think it's starting to show on Saturdays."

Lynch and Cardinal quarterback Talmadge Hill agreed with Crable's comments on the defense.

"More importantly, this was a key game for our defense," Hill said. "They showed they can show up and win. The offense didn't really help them much today so this win definitely goes to the defense."

"I'm really happy for our kids but I thought we had a great defensive effort," Lynch said. "I really thought the defense played excellent all day long, but that last drive was big."

The last drive Lynch was referring to came in the fourth quarter when Connecticut was threatening, near their own red zone. Ball State stopped the Huskies from moving forward, forcing them to turn the ball over after a failed fourth down conversion attempt with 1:04 remaining on the game clock.

On the offensive side of the ball, Ball State was not nearly as active in Saturday's contest. The only Cardinal touchdown of the day came in the second quarter, shortly after both Marcus Merriweather and Jason Teeters ran the ball back to back, 37 yards each.

"We finally split (the defensive line)," Lynch said. "We had trouble splitting them all day. They just have a good defensive front and their linebackers are very active. We split those two and that was big."

It was Merriweather who scored the touchdown with a four-yard run. The drive lasted only five plays and was a minute and fifty seconds long for a total 90 yards.

The other score on the day for the Cardinals came from placekicker Mike Langford after booting a 21-yard field goal in the latter part of the third quarter.

Regardless of the lack of scoring in comparison to the Cardinals other games this year, to Lynch, a win is a win. Now that Ball State has marked its third consecutive win, Lynch is already looking forward to a chance at making it four.

"We came up here to win a football game," Lynch said. "We've got that done, and now we are getting on the plane, and we've got Central coming in next week. And then that becomes the next big game."


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