A tired and limping Ball State University football team ran smack into the best team in the Mid-American Conference on Wednesday night.
Quarterback Dan LeFevour led Central Michigan University to a 35-3 thumping of Ball State at Scheumann Stadium. The senior threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the Chippewas with 59 rushing yards and another touchdown.
"He's the definition of a good quarterback," defensive end Robert Eddins said. "He's poised, he moved around in the pocket when we did get to him, he scrambled real well. He's just, honestly a good player."
Wednesday's game was six days after Ball State lost at Northern Illinois University 26-20. Coach Stan Parrish said his team was tired this week in practice.
"I think we ran out of juice," Parrish said. "I think the one before halftime really deflated us. We never moved the ball and I think the team senses that."
The Cardinals were hurt at the end of the first half when LeFevour connected with wide receiver Antonio Brown for an 82-yard touchdown pass. The score made it 21-3 and came less than a minute after Ball State scored its first points on a 20-yard field goal from Ian McGarvey.
Brown's touchdown gave the Chippewas a 21-3 advantage at halftime and the Cardinals would never get back on track. Twice Ball State moved inside the red zone, but came away without any points.
"It seemed like they tightened down," Justice said. "I remember handing the ball off one time and seeing three guys come off the edge. It was almost like they knew that we were going to run that play."
Meanwhile, LeFevour found tight end David Blackburn for a pair of third quarter touchdowns to put the game well out of reach. He also set the MAC-career record for passing yards, passing Byron Leftwich. LeFevour finished the night with an even 12,000 career yards.
"There are a lot of good players who have played [in the MAC] and got chance at the next level," LeFevour said. "Unfortunately a lot of those guys at the top of the list didn't play four years, so I'm kind of stealing it."
Parrish said he thinks LeFevour is clearly the best player in the conference.
"He has separated himself from everyone else in the league," Parrish said. "A year ago the two gunslingers went after each other. He's improved a lot."
Ball State has had trouble containing LeFevour before. In his previous appearance at Scheumann Stadium in 2007, LeFevour threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns.
Eddins said the Chippewas' game plan made it difficult to stop LeFevour.
"It honestly reminded me of our offense last year," Eddins said. "The receivers and the quarterback have been together so long that they were just on the same page. It just flowed better, just like Nate Davis and Dante Love and Louis Johnson."
Several miscues prevented the Cardinals from ever landing a counter-punch. On fourth-and-two in the red zone, running backs Eric Williams and Cory Sykes fumbled a handoff from the wildcat formation.
"We didn't handle the ball well in the wildcat," Parrish said. "We missed a handoff. They did a good job pressuring it, that's what you've got to do to that wildcat."
Stat line: Central Michigan @ Ball State
CMU 35, BSU 3
CMU 35, BSU 13
CMU 512, BSU 231
CMU 344, BSU 105
CMU 168, BSU 126
CMU 2, BSU 2
Time of Possession:
CMU 33:45, BSU 26:15