In Saturday's contest between Kent State and Ball State, Golden Flashes' quarterback Joshua Cribbs rushed for 147 yards, just 13 less than Cardinal tailback Marcus Merriweather, No. 2 rusher in the Mid-American Conference. Cribbs attack lead the Golden Flashes to a 31-18 victory over Ball State, snapping a four-game winning streek.
With a disappointed look over his face, Cardinal quarterback Talmadge Hill summed the game up by saying, "I don't think we overlooked them, it was just a good, old fashioned ass-kicking, really."
Coming out of halftime down by only three points, Ball State trailed the Golden Flashes 14-11. It was the third quarter, however, that put the Cardinals in a hole. The score was set at 28-18 at the end of the third quarter after Kent State pulled in two touchdowns.
Ball State coach Bill Lynch knew before Saturday's game that Cribbs' fast attack would present problems for the Cardinals.
"We haven't played against a quarterback with that kind of speed," Lynch said. "It seemed like most of the time he was stepping up inside and then outside. His quickness was the difference early."
"He's a quarterback but at the same time he's a running back," Cardinal linebacker Lorenzo Scott said. "It's a good scheme, they were able to work it well."
Cribbs also ran for a 29-yard touchdown and connected with Jurron Kelly in the third quarter for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Despite the reasoning behind Ball State's loss Saturday, Lynch was disappointed with the game that snapped a four game winning streak for the Cards. At the same time, the loss kept Ball State from achieving a winning record for the first time since 1996. Ball State's overall record now stands at 4-5. Lynch expected that his players left the Ball State football complex disappointed also.
"This was a big football game. We let it get away," Lynch said. "As disappointed as we are, like anything else we have to move on. I told everyone I wanted them to leave here with a sick feeling."
In comparison, Ball State's quarterback Talmadge Hill did not fare quite as well as Cribbs. Hill threw for three interceptions and only 93 yards with 12 completions.
Hill took full credit for the three interceptions.
"They are all my fault," Hill said. "I was just forcing the ball."
"He's a sophomore," Lynch said of Hill. "We all think he's a senior, but he's a sophomore."
When Lynch was asked if Hill made some bad decisions, the coach replied said, "that's what it looked like to me."
Merriweather was the brightest note for the Cardinals, as the junior tailback marked his second consecutive year to rush for more than 1,000 yards. Merriweather ended the game with 35 carries for 160 yards.
"Marcus has played that way all year," Lynch said. "He is a good back and takes care of the football. He shows a lot of toughness."
"He's a hard runner," Kent State coach Dean Pees said. "We talked about him all week. The guy is always falling forward.
"You don't hit him for loses very often," he said. "He's a good, hard runner, a tough guy that had our respect."
Through it all, Lynch said it was the second half where the Cardinals faltered.
"It was a tale of two halves," Lynch said. "They came out and beat us in every way possible in the second half."
At halftime the Golden Flashes had 109 rushing yards. By the end of the game, Kent State had tallied 327 yards on the ground.
The Kent State defense also improved in the second half. Merriweather ran for 132 yards in the first half but was only able to gain 28 positive yards in the second half.
Despite the snap to the Cardinals' four game winning streak, and Saturday's loss standing as Ball State's second loss to a Mid-American Conference East team for the season, the Cardinals remain in first place in the MAC West.
Next Saturday the Cardinals will play one of the most important games in recent school history as Ball State faces Northern Illinois. A win at Northern would secure the MAC West title for Ball State.
With the break in Ball State's winning momentum, Lynch and Hill both believe their team will rebound well from Saturday's loss and be ready for the game against Northern Illinois.
"I don't have any questions that, by Monday, these guys will be back and ready to go," Lynch said.
"I have complete faith in our team that we can bounce back from this," Hill said. "We have faced adversity all year long. We are definitely playing for something next week. We just have to learn from this and learn from our mistakes.
"I think the only thing we can do is to use this to fire us up," he said. "Really, it might have been good for us. We might have had a little too much confidence going into it. "