FOOTBALL: Running game steps up after Page falls to injury

Stan Parrish looked over his play sheet at halftime Saturday and made the decision to scrap much of it.

Ball State University was trailing Bowling Green State University 24-0 at the time and would have to finish the game without Kelly Page, who injured his right thumb. So despite needing to throw the ball to try and score quickly, Parrish played to his team's strength.

"I had to come in at halftime and say ‘We got to run it,'" he said. "I didn't want to get beat 50-0 like anyone else did and semi-had my hands tied. Just played with cards that had been dealt to us."

That meant plenty of work for MiQuale Lewis and company. The Cardinals rushed 42 times for a season-high 273 yards in their 31-17 loss. 198 of those yards came after halftime.
The heavy-running attack paid big dividends for Lewis, who ran for a season-high 115 yards. It was the 14th time he crossed the century mark in his career and second this season.

"Watching film on [Bowling Green], most running backs they played against had big games," Lewis said. "Most of their runs were just straight forward. You had to make one miss and you had a lot of big runs. That's what I tried to do."

The Cardinals also utilized the I-formation in the second half, something Parrish usually reserves for the goal line.

"We practice this stuff in short yardage," Parrish said. "We just got all the kids in the huddle and said ‘We can do this out in the field; we can manufacture this.'"

Lewis was happy to see the formation get some more use.

"I like it a lot," the senior said. "Just having a lead blocker to go up there felt good."

Eric Williams was also a big beneficiary of the offensive change. The freshman set a career-high with 88 yards on nine attempts. He also scored his first two rushing touchdowns, the first coming when he busted a run for 30 yards.

"[He's a] great supplement," backup quarterback Tanner Justice said. "He's a little different style runner than Quale. It's something that defenses have to prepare for differently."

Coming in cold off the bench, Justice completed six of his 21 passes for 92 yards. That kind of performance made Parrish's statement even more important.

"Coach P said [Saturday] we needed a 100-yard back," Justice said. "It takes the pressure off me and the wide receivers if the O-line is getting downhill and the running backs are getting 10 yards a carry."


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