Georgia State got a big stop to start the fourth quarter, getting the ball back after three straight stops at the 1-yard line.
The Panthers moved the ball a little, but the drive stalled, and they punted. Riley Neal made them pay on Ball State's drive, faking a handoff and carrying the ball 46 yards to the Panther 15. Senior Teddy Williamson punched it in on the next play, giving Ball State a 24-14 lead with 8:43 left.
Ball State kept its offense flowing on its next possession as Darian Green capped it off with an 8-yard score that put the Cardinals ahead 31-14.
But the Panthers wouldn't go away quietly. New quarterback Aaron Winchester led a drive with his legs and capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown to pull them within 10 with 2:24 remaining in the game.
Gilbert picked up a first down on a 3-yard gain with two minutes left, and then picked up a huge gain down to the 1-yard line. Ball State chose to kneel the ball down from there.
Ball State wins, 31-21.
Ball State continued its strong defense to start the second half, getting into the backfield and rushing Conner Manning into throws. The Panthers picked up a first down, but the drive stalled. The punt flew into the end zone for a touchback.
James Gilbert and Darian Green carried the load on the next drive. The duo carried the ball six times for 54 yards on Ball State's first possession of the first half, which ended in a 44-yard field goal by Morgan Hagee. The Cardinals took a 17-14 lead with 8:25 left in the quarter.
The defense forced another Panther punt, and Riley Neal got the next drive started with a deep shot down the sideline to KeVonn Mabon for 21 yards. Mabon made another play on third down, making the catch just short of the sticks and breaking a tackle for a first down. Big plays in the passing game by Neal, Devin Reece and Corey Lacanaria extended the drive before time ran out with Ball State on the Georgia State 1-yard line.
At the end of the third, Ball State leads 17-14.
On the first play of the second quarter, Penny Hart took a screen pass from Conner Manning in for a touchdown. Georgia State took a 14-7 lead.
After the Hart touchdown, both offenses started to slow down. The game's third straight punt bounced into the end zone, and Georgia State took over on the 20 yard-line.
The Cardinals got their first sack of the game from defensive tackle Kevin Thurmon on second down and stopped the Panthers a yard short of a first down on the next play. Aaron Hepp took the punt to Ball State's 39-yard line, where it will begin its drive with 8:34 left in the quarter.
Ball State got a break after a stop as Georgia State shanked a punt and gave the Cardinals the ball on the opposing 44-yard line. Riley Neal hit KeVonn Mabon on a 4th-and-3 to keep the drive alive. After Darian Green picked up another first down on a short run, Neal was sacked on first down. Corey Lacanaria made a 20-yard reception on 3rd-and-16 to keep the drive alive before Neal hit Mabon at the 1-yard line, setting up a 4th-and-goal with 13 seconds left in the half.
James Gilbert punched it in from a yard away on fourth down, his second score of the game.
At halftime, Ball State and Georgia State are tied 14-14.
Ball State got favorable field position after a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the kickoff. Sophomore quarterback Riley Neal hit Jordan Hogue down the seam for a long gain on the first play, but a holding penalty brought it back. Three plays later, Neal was picked off by Jerome Smith who took it all the way back for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.
The second drive ended the same way as the first for the Cardinals. James Gilbert got two carries for 7 yards. Neal was tipped and intercepted on third down — again by Smith — giving Georgia State the ball on the Ball State 32-yard line.
After a tackle for a loss on the first play, the Georgia State quarterback completed his first pass for 11 yards on third down. Senior linebacker Zack Ryan came up with a big stop of 4th-and-2 to give the Cardinals the ball back, which ended in a punt after three downs.
Georgia State's next drive got off to a good start before Sean Wiggins forced the ball out of running back Glenn Smith's hands. Anthony Winbush picked it up, giving Ball State a first down at the Georgia State 35-yard line.
Ball State failed to pick up a first down, however, and Morgan Hagee was short on a 41-yard field goal attempt. Safety Corey Hall gave the ball back to the offense with an interception on the following play.
The Cardinals picked up their first first down of the game with 5:51 left in the quarter on a 3-yard run by Darian Green. Ball State started utilizing the run game and quick passes, and KeVonn Mabon broke a screen pass to the Georgia State 1-yard line. Gilbert punched it in to tie the game 7-7 with 3:26 remaining.
Georgia State moved the ball deep into Ball State territory before Penny Hart broke a screen pass for a touchdown. The referees brought the ball back to the Ball State 18-yard line for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty before the score. Georgia State is facing a 1st-and-10 at the Ball State 14-yard line.
At the end of the first quarter, the game is tied 7-7.