When starting quarterback Jack Milas was lost due to a broken wrist against Eastern Michigan, at least the Ball State football team had an insurance policy.
Former starter Ozzie Mann came off the bench in the third quarter, helping pilot Ball State to a 45-30 win on Senior Day.
Senior running back Jahwan Edwards said the offense continued business as usual.
“It’s supposed to be like that all the time, that’s what backups are for," Edwards said. "You’ve got to keep it rolling."
Mann, a redshirt sophomore, was the starter to open the season, but Ball State fell to 1-5 as the offense sputtered. He was benched for Milas leading up to the Western Michigan matchup on Oct. 11.
Upon entering the game against Eastern Michigan, Mann wasn’t asked to do much, throwing the ball just seven times. He completed four of them for 48 yards and a touchdown, and no turnovers.
He inherited a positive situation during the game, entering after Ball State already had a 35-10 lead. It wasn’t initially clear as to why Mann had been inserted into the game, whether it was because Milas was injured or because head coach Pete Lembo had pulled him for another reason.
After it was discovered that Milas had suffered a wrist injury, the rest of the game, as well as the rest of the season, was in Mann’s hands.
“You can’t miss a beat when the backup comes in,” Edwards said. “You’re supposed to know what’s going on and that’s why coach Lembo does a great job making sure the guys are paying attention when they’re not in the play … [Mann] came in comfortable.”
Mann’s duty was mostly handing the ball off to Edwards, Horactio Banks and Teddy Williamson, who carried the load on offense. But with Eastern Michigan beginning to creep closer on the scoreboard in the third quarter and into the fourth, Mann’s number was called.
During a short three-play drive towards the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mann found Corey Lacanaria for a 19 yard gain, then Darian Green for 20 yards. Facing first and goal from the Eastern Michigan five yard line, Mann hit tight end Dylan Curry for a five yard touchdown, giving Ball State a commanding 45-16 lead.
It was the first time Mann had thrown a touchdown pass since the game against Army on October 4. Incidentally, it also went to Curry.
Lembo said that Mann had a good week of practice leading up to the game, and he’s confident in him moving forward.
Mann will continue to run the Cardinals offense as the season wraps up against Bowling Green on Nov. 28, the season finale for the football team.
So far this season, he’s has thrown for 947 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.