FOOTBALL: Ball State's Wildcat expands against Ohio

The Wildcat had not yielded a pass for Ball State University this year, but Ohio University was sure they would see one Saturday.

The Cardinals did throw out of the formation in their 20-17 loss to the Bobcats, and it surprised them anyway. In the fourth quarter, quarterback Tanner Justice took a lateral from triggerman Eric Williams and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Hill streaking down the sideline.

"They showed us a couple plays they hadn't shown before," Ohio linebacker Noah Keller said. "We knew coming into this they would have some pass [plays]. Every team has to have some pass [plays] off of it, we just didn't know where."

Justice said the point of passing out of the formation is to keep defenses honest.

"We put it in recently to give the Wildcat something else so defenses can't just sit and load up the box and play the run," Justice said. "We put in a couple different things and that's one of them."

Keller said the play really caught the defense off-guard.

"It's a well designed play," he said. "They just keep running it, running it, running it and after that big play where we had the roughing the punter [penalty], they had the momentum on their side. They went for a big play and they caught us." 

The Cardinals also have plays for Williams to throw a pass, but have not used them in a game yet.

"We had to do something," Parrish said. "I would have used them last week, but [Williams] got hurt right away. We've got a couple of other things we can use. We need it all."

In Justice's first two games as a starter, Ball State's passing offense has been listless. The senior has passed for 79 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Parrish said his team needs a better air attack to compete in its final three games of the year.

Ball State had 169 rushing yards against Ohio, down from the 463 they racked up against Eastern Michigan University last week. Williams led the Cardinals with 59 rushing yards on five attempts. Most of his yards came on a 55-yard run that came up just short of the goal line. He would later score his third touchdown of the season on a one-yard dive.

The Cardinals were able to put all three of their star running backs on the field at once Saturday, something Parrish was pleased with.

"We have plays where they all touch it," Parrish said. "I think they're three of our best players. It's something good for us."

And count Bobcats coach Frank Solich as a believer in the Cardinals' Wildcat.

"I think what they're doing is giving themselves the best chance of winning football [games]," Solich said. "It can cause you problems."


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