FOOTBALL: Eddins meets expectations in Ball State's Opening Night victory

Defensive end helps Cardinals win turnover battle

Stan Parrish heaped high expectations on Robert Eddins this offseason, saying he needed to be one of the best defensive ends in the Mid-American Conference for Ball State to be successful.

In Ball State's Opening Night 27-10 victory against Southeast Missouri State on Thursday, Eddins did his best to meet the lofty goal. He had a fumble recovery and a forced fumble and added two tackles.

Parrish was pleased with Eddins' performance, especially because he sat out spring practice with a shoulder injury.

Eddins played a big role in helping the Cardinals win the turnover battle. Ball State finished plus two in the category. His fumble recovery came during the Cardinals 17-point third quarter, helping swing the momentum fully in Ball State's favor.

Eddins recovered the fumble on the first play of Southeast Missouri State's drive following Ball State's first touchdown of the quarter. Running back Cedric Cox was running near the Cardinals sideline when the ball popped into the air and into Eddins' arms.

"If you could have seen my eyes, it was a surprise," he said. "We're taught to run to the ball every down. It was just a gift; I was going for a tackle."

The official statistics credited Eddins with a forced fumble, but he said he didn't cause the play. Eddins thinks a hit from cornerback Charlie Todd jarred the ball loose.

Picked off

Ball State's lone turnover of Opening Night came when linebacker Justin Woodlief intercepted a pass from Kelly Page late in the second quarter.

It appeared Page threw the ball right to Woodlief, but after the game both Page and Parrish said a Redhawk hit Page's arm as he was throwing.

"I think I could have made a deeper drop," Page said. "I was trying to get it over his head. All in all, it's my fault."

The Cardinals' defense quickly negated the interception two plays later when cornerback Jason Pinkston forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Kaylon Woods.

Big crowd

The Cardinals were excited to see such a big crowd, especially in the student section. After such a disappointing season in 2009, Parrish wasn't sure how well students would support the team this year.

"The student body was great," he said. "I was shocked because I didn't think we'd get anywhere close to that. They not only were there, they were in the game. The third quarter must have been fun for them."

Official attendance Thursday was 10,753.

New position

Former backup quarterback Aaron Mershman made his debut as an H-back Thursday night. The redshirt freshman caught a key fourth down pass from Page for eight yards, extending a third-quarter scoring drive.

Mershman lost a quarterback competition to Page and true freshman Keith Wenning in the offseason, before switching positions.

Mershman finished the night with one reception for eight yards.



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