Editor's note: Due to space constraints, this story did not run in the print edition.
In Saturday's football game at Ball State Stadium, the Cardinals passed a difficult test.
They were taken to their limit by an offensively sound Central Michigan ball club, barely escaping with a 38-34 victory in a game that was a shootout from beginning to end.
Although, the defense was ranked 35th nationally coming in, they struggled on Saturday, especially against the rush. Central Michigan had 272 yards rushing as compared to the Cardinals' 194 yards on the ground.
The Chippewas ran a no-huddle offense most of the game. They tried to wear the defense down by coming at the Cardinals with a fast paced and well-coordinated attack.
"Speed and tempo, that's what our coach preaches everyday in practice," Central Michigan quarterback Derek Gorney said. "This concept is what our offense is all about."
Central Michigan led several times throughout the game. Their fast paced offense was anchored by fullback Terrence Jackson's performance. He had 199 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on the day.
A 45-yard touchdown completion from Gorney to receiver Willie Hill helped Central to cut the Cardinal lead down to 24-19.
Later in the second half two separate touchdown carries by Jackson put the Chippewas up 27-24 and 34-31, respectively.
"We knew they were going to run," Cardinal linebacker Lorenzo Scott said. "They just got us a couple of times with certain schemes that they ran. After some of their larger gains we really didn't know what happened."
Despite several mistakes throughout the game, the defense had a very solid effort in the 4th quarter. They were able to stop the opposition from scoring the last four times they had possession of the football.
Fifth year senior Brent Walker had a crucial sack near the end of the game that helped swing momentum back to our side. Walker usually plays the role of tight end for the Cards, but has been playing defense in the last few games.
"Brent is known as being a one play warrior," Ball State quarterback Talmadge Hill said. "He knows his assignments. He always plays hard, and does what is expected from him."
Central Michigan had one last chance to take the lead with less than a minute remaining. But as time expired, Derek Gorney's fourth down pass sailed out of bounds and incomplete. The Cardinals survived and improved to 4-4 on the season.