DN GRAPHIC | TYSON BIRD
Anatomy of a play: Ball State at Northwestern
After the Ball State football team missed several opportunities on offense throughout the first half, Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson gave Ball State another chance with a fumble right before halftime. In the first half alone, Thorson had two fumbles and threw a deep pass that was easily picked off by Tyree Holder.
Here's the anatomy of Thorson’s fumble with 1:10 left in the first half that gave the Cardinals life to end the half.
1. Northwestern is lined up in the shotgun, with running back Justin Jackson lined up on Thorson's left. The Wildcats had a four-wide set on the field. It looked like a quick pass in the flats to Jackson was the first option, with the slot receiver advancing out to the sideline for an out route. Leading 7-3, Northwestern was trying to advance down the field quickly to add on points before halftime.
2. As the ball is snapped, Thorson immediately bobbles it. The ball hits the ground and the Cardinals' defensive linemen begin to swarm toward it.
3. Thorson picks the ball back up, but it has already become a busted play for the Wildcats. He tries to evade defenders and runs toward the left side of the field.
4. Thorson is running around with the exposed ball, meaning any sort of hit on it will jar it loose. As he tries to run it around offensive tackle Blake Hance, defensive lineman Kevin Willis properly sets the edge on the mobile quarterback. That causes Thorson to cut inside — right into Hance’s backside — which causes the ball to soar in the air.
5. By the time the ball hits the ground, Willis and linebacker Ben Ingle are around it. Ingle hits Hance so he can not recover Thorson’s fumble, allowing Willis to jump on it without any purple jerseys.
The fumble recovery led to a Riley Neal 22-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Williams on the next play to give Ball State a 10-7 halftime lead. Northwestern ultimately won the game, 24-19.
GIF: Thorson's second fumble. pic.twitter.com/38weiqBcAN— Daily NU Sports (@DailyNU_Sports) September 27, 2015