KALAMAZOO, Mich. – In the waning days of Ball State University's season, coach Stan Parrish talked a lot about the kind of legacy this year's seniors would leave.
They will probably be best remembered for their contributions during the Cardinals' back-to-back bowl appearances, but defensive end Brandon Crawford will be memorialized for his leadership.
Before Ball State's 22-17 season-ending victory at Western Michigan University last Tuesday, Parrish said Crawford came up with a quote that will be displayed in the Fisher Football Training Complex.
"‘The Soldier' came up with a saying that's going up in the locker room forever for us, ‘All in, all the time,'" Parrish said. "We decided we would be all in, all the time, the whole group that got on the bus."
The Cardinals said they wanted to win the final game of the season for the nine seniors.
"We played with heart," safety Sean Baker said. "We played for our seniors, because they deserve nothing less than a win like that. We just fought for our seniors."
Freeman steps up: Middle linebacker Travis Freeman was inserted into the starting lineup in his second college game, immediately forcing him into a key position in the Cardinals' defense.
Freeman's responsibility was added to at Western Michigan when Davyd Jones suffered a knee injury and left the game. As the junior left the field, he had a message for Freeman.
"Dave is a big part of our defense," Freeman said. "When he went down he said ‘step it up.' I felt like I had a big responsibility and a duty to step up."
The freshman finished with six tackles and an interception against the Broncos.
Good returns: Ball State had their first punt return for a touchdown in four years Tuesday night and would have added an interception return if it wasn't called back on a penalty.
Cornerback Charlie Todd scored the game-winning touchdown on an 87-yard punt return midway through the fourth quarter. B.J. Hill was the last Cardinal to return a punt for a touchdown, which he did Nov. 5, 2005, against the University of Akron.
In the third quarter, Baker took his first of two interceptions to the end zone, but had the score nullified by an unnecessary roughness penalty assessed on defensive end Robert Eddins.
Baker said Eddins was just trying to make something happen.
"I know Rob and he's just trying to make a football play," Baker said. "That just happens, it's football."
After the victory, Parrish said he didn't have a problem with the penalty.
"It was called because it was way behind the ball," Parrish said. "Rob was just hustling and trying to clean it up."
The Cardinals ultimately settled for a 48-yard field goal from Ian McGarvey that squeaked over the crossbar.