Ball State's football team realizes its main goal for the season won't be met. With three losses in the Mid-American Conference, the Cardinals are left with the task of finding a way to salvage a season.
Ball State's 38-20 weekend loss to No. 21 Bowling Green made the team 3-5 overall and 1-3 in conference play. The Cardinals now sit in a four-way tie at the bottom of the MAC West.
According to head coach Bill Lynch, though, there is still motivation for a strong finish to the season.
"There's a lot of football to be played," Lynch said. "How you finish the season goes a long way toward how people remember your football team."
This year's team would like nothing more than to be remembered in a positive light. So far this season has been less than memorable. The biggest stories for Ball State have been individual ones. Tailback Marcus Merriweather is on the cusp of breaking the Ball State career rushing record and quarterback Andy Roesch became the starter after a 2-3 start by Talmadge Hill.
Now Lynch will look to the last four games with optimism.
"How you play in November is how championships are won," Lynch said. "Some teams finish strong and go into the off season on a positive note; and seniors can leave on a positive note, but most important is how people remember this football team."
One of those seniors is wide receiver Sean Schembra. Schembra led the Cardinals in receiving last season. This year he has passed the torch to freshman wide out Dante Ridgeway, but he is still a leader on the team.
Schembra thinks it is the seniors' responsibility to pave the way for teams to come.
"It is my responsibility, because if we win the last four games we'll get some momentum and confidence going into next season," Schembra said.
Schembra had his best statistical game of the season Saturday, catching nine balls for 91 yards and one touchdown. He also had a key fumble on a punt return.
"I think Saturday when I fumbled that punt, that was a huge momentum changer," he said.
With that loss behind them, though, the Cardinals are looking ahead. Lynch says all his attention will be focused on Ball State's next opponent, Western Michigan.
"We look at it like we have one game left in the season," Lynch said. "We wanted to win the west, but realistically we're out of that. The next thing we've got to do is take each game at a time."
Schembra reiterated his coach's statement, saying his team needs to look at each game individually, but there is no doubt about Schembra's intention to win.
"We want to win the last four games. If we lose the last four, we'll just have a sick feeling," Schembra said.
Schembra admits that one of the teams main goals for the season - winning the MAC - won't happen. He says that there is something else there, though, to drive the team to win.
"As far as the MAC, we are out of that," Schembra said. "It's just for pride now."