Win for the ages

After Saturday's game, Ball State ranks 92 in BCS Rankings while Toledo dropped to 36.

This story originally appeared in the Monday, Oct. 22 issue of the Ball State Daily News.

One word: upset.

In its Homecoming game Saturday, Ball State posted one of the biggest wins in school history in an energetic, big-play fashion, dropping previously No. 25 undefeated Toledo, 20-24.

Toledo's coach Tom Amstutz was in a near state of shock after the game.

"We had a nightmare today," he said. "This was just a good, tough football game and we came up short."

For the Cardinals, Saturday's game was crucial because the win put Ball State in sole possession of first place in the MAC West after Western Michigan lost to Northern Illinois, 12-20.

According to Ball State coach Bill Lynch, Saturday's win is what Ball State needed to excel into the MAC West lead.

"If you are going to compete, then you have to beat somebody who is good," Lynch said. "Once you beat somebody good you get a chance to go the next step and people look at you differently.

"That's how I feel about it right now. We finally beat somebody who is a good football team."

The kickoff return

The win came after what Lynch referred to as a "wild fourth quarter." The final quarter was up in the air for both teams until a huge break-away 100-yard kickoff return by Ball State's Corey Parchman.

Before Parchman's return, Ball State's defense battled with Toledo three downs within its own five-yard line.

The Cardinal defense held Toledo to the one-yard line, forcing the Rockets to kick a field goal. Aside from Parchman's return, according to Lynch, the defensive stop is what he considered the biggest play of the day.

"That's one of the things we preach around here," he said. "You have to make them play one more play. That's what the defense did, rather than letting them get in to the end zone."

With Ball State stopping Toledo, the Rockets were only able to take the lead by three points with a field goal, 20-17.

After the shift in the lead, with only 3:07 remaining on the game clock, Parchman immediately put the Cardinals back on top after his 100-yard return, tying a school record for longest kickoff return.

"I told everyone that if we all did our jobs, we could bust this one because the kickoff before that one, we took pretty far," Parchman said.

"It wasn't just me. My teammates were out there making the blocks and making the right decisions," he said. "If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have ran it back.

"But it was great to be able to do something like that."

In the air

Parchman wasn't the only person making big plays on the day for the Cardinals. Ball State quarterback Talmadge Hill had his second-best performance of the season, throwing for 222 yards while Billy Lynch and Sean Schembra each had six receptions on the day for 63 and 56 yards, respectively.

According to Hill, the increase in air-attack for the Cardinals was just part of the game plan.

"We had a great game plan. I have to give credit to our coaches," Hill said. "They worked hard all week and we worked hard all week to perfect the game plan.

"The passing game was there for us a little more than the run was."

Toledo's quarterback Tavares Bolden held his own throughout the day also. Throwing for 259 yards, Bolden connected with eight different receivers on the day going to Donta Green for seven completions and 68 yards.

The rush

Lynch said he had realized ahead of time that running the ball was going to be a problem against Toledo's solid defensive line.

"We just weren't going to be able to run the ball up and down the field on that team, so we knew were going to have to throw it," Lynch said. "And we knew we were going to have to throw it with pressure, so I thought (Hill) hung in there pretty well."

The running game was definitely not there. Despite the fact that Ball State's Marcus Merriweather started Saturday's game No. 1 in the MAC in rushing, and Toledo's back, Chester Taylor, was No. 2 in the MAC in rushing, there was only a combined 114 yards in the game.

Ball State's defense held Taylor, who has been mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate, to only 34 yards on 18 carries.

Merriweather finished the day with only 44 yards on 18 carries while Jason Teeters carried the ball three times for 10.

The kicking game

Ball State's place kicker Mike Langford, who recently became the go-to-guy for the Cardinals against Eastern Michigan, kicked three field goals on the day.

Langford's first kick was in the second quarter from 38-yards out, while his second field goal came in the same quarter, four feet shorter.

In the second quarter, Toledo was given a roughing the kicker penalty on a Reggie Hodges punt. Because of the call, the ball was brought back to the original line of scrimmage and advanced 15-yards, which gave the Cardinals a first down. Regaining possession of the ball, Ball State pushed it down field to allow Langford to hit his 34-yard field goal.

Taking control

With the three field goals and two touchdowns on the day, Hill felt like the tempo of the game belonged to the Cardinals.

"I don't think Toledo has had anyone come at them like we did today with our game plan of taking advantage of their weaknesses," Hill said. "From the first snap, we could see it in their eyes that they knew they were in a dog fight."

Even Toledo's coach commented that Ball State did what had to be done to upset the No. 25 Rockets.

"I give credit to Ball State," he said. "They played just like they needed to. They kept it close and they stuck one in at the end to win."

Lynch said that he was especially happy with the fact that his team held the Rockets from gaining with big plays.

"They didn't get any big plays for touchdowns," Lynch said. "They have been getting those against everybody all year, so I was really proud of how the defense played there."

What's next?

Despite the major upset Saturday, Lynch and his players are not content until the season ends -- preferably with a MAC title.

"This win doesn't mean anything if we can't carry it on the rest of the season," Lynch said. "We want to have a good football program that can put them away back to back."

"Hopefully this will propel us," defensive end Rachman Crable said. "We made a step today, but it's not going to get it done for the rest of the year. We have to keep improving."

Most of all, Lynch hopes that his team will take this win and use it to move forward in the MAC West.

"This is what big football games are for. Someone always steps up and makes big plays and our kids did that today," Lynch said.

"What's important with this is that we are in control of the West. With this win, we control our own destiny."


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