Cards down Chippewas, remain atop MAC West

Quarterback Talmadge Hill threw for 303 yards to lead the Cardinals to victory Saturday against Central Michigan.

A win?

Yes.

In the same fashion?

No.

Ball State quarterback Talmadge Hill threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 34-38 victory over Central Michigan Saturday.

Winning its fourth consecutive game, and third consecutive Mid-American Conference matchup, Ball State's offense came alive. For Ball State, a lively offense has not been the norm.

Against Toledo and Connecticut it was Ball State's defense that made the game. Saturday however, the defense allowed 279 yards in the air and 272 yards rushing against the Chippewas.

With the defense not as solid as previous games, the game was in the hands of Ball State's offense, and they took it with open arms.

"It was something we stressed all week," Hill said. "We had a great week of practice and stressed taking a couple of shots at them because we knew their secondary was susceptible to giving up big plays."

It was obvious that Hill planned on taking advantage of that secondary as he completed passes over 30 yards to four different receivers as well as a 78 yard completion to Sean Schembra.

On the second play of a drive in the fourth quarter, Hill connected with Schembra with a deep pass to the right side of the field. Schembra carried the ball down field nearly unchallenged.

"It felt really good to finally get a couple today," Schembra said. "We definitely opened up the offense a little bit today.

"We knew that if we just kept doing our stuff, we could make a couple of big plays because we knew they have been known to blow coverage."

"Coach Lynch has been preaching to us all week that the last three weeks the defense has been carrying us and it's time that that offense step up and take some pressure off the defense," Schembra said. "It was nice to be able to do that."

Another big play on the afternoon from Hill came with Ball State's first drive of the second half. After a 12-yard run from junior tailback Marcus Merriweather, Hill launched a high floating pass to Corey Parchman who waited in the endzone. The pass was for 37 yards.

"I thought Talmadge played really well today," Lynch said. "He cranked it out. The one that was really good was the one to Parchman because he was getting rushed. He just threw it up in the air. When you throw it up in the air you get in the jump ball position."

Central Michigan's coach Mike DeBord admitted that he was a bit surprised with Lynch's number of big-play calls.

"It did surprise me a little bit," DeBord said. "I have to hand it too Bill. When it's crucial you get that lump in your throat and you don't want to call those long throws, but he did and they executed it."

Even though the passing game seemed to be the dominating factor for the Cardinals Saturday, the running game held its own for Ball State also.

Merriweather had two touchdowns for the day and rushed for 143 yards while Jason Teeters rushed for 41 yards.

While Ball State's offense was busy packing the touchdowns away, it was Central Michigan's offense that gave the Cardinal defense trouble throughout the day.

Running on a no-huddle offense at a very fast pace, Ball State's defense was pounded by the Chippewa offense. Central Michigan ended the day with 98 plays for the game.

"They are constantly running the ball," Lynch said. "They do a great job of it. They are getting between 88 and 94 plays, and that is unheard of in college football. It wears you out."

Linebacker Lorenzo Scott, who was second for the Cardinals in total tackles with 13 on the day, discussed the Chippewa fast paced offense attack.

"We knew it was coming, but you can't simulate it in practice," Scott said. "We knew what they were going to run."

One big defensive play on the day came early in the second quarter when Jesse Avant picked off a pass by Central Michigan's quarterback, Derek Gorney, and returned it for a 70-yard touchdown.

Avant said the pick was a bit of redemption for him after the Cardinals match up with Central Michigan last year.

"Last year they ran the same play on us," Avant said. "I was in a position to make a play but I missed a tackle. I just wanted to make amends with what happened last year."

Despite the Cardinal defensive troubles, Ball State still walked away Saturday with another MAC West win, remaining in first place in the division.

Lynch couldn't have been much happier after the win, which keeps his team in contention for a MAC championship shot.

"It's a great win for us," Lynch said. "I'm so happy with the win right now against such a good offense in such a wild game."

Click here for Ball State vs. Central Michigan photo gallery


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