Another week, another Ball State football game without a touchdown.
The Cardinals (2-5, 0-3 MAC) extended their losing streak to four games after a 56-9 loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas (4-4, 2-2 MAC) — and they've lost the last three by a combined score of 142-15.
"I obviously hate that we can't capitalize when you have a great crowd like that and get a win at home," head coach Mike Neu said. "Especially for Homecoming and the number of alum who came back."
Central Michigan dominated just about every facet of the game. The Chippewas had more than twice as many yards (455) as the Cardinals (208), were more efficient on third down and sacked Ball State quarterbacks eight times.
"Fragile football team right now," Neu said. "As much as I hate to admit it, we are struggling to overcome some of the injuries."
Redshirt senior quarterback Jack Milas went 18-30 for 118 yards, filling in for injured junior quarterback Riley Neal. But late in the third quarter, Neu said Milas got hurt, too.
"He got dinged on his elbow there on one sack," Neu said. "Could he have sucked it up? Maybe, but I opted to go with Zack in that situation."
Ball State was already down 35-9 at that point, but it was close early.
Junior kicker Morgan Hagee hit a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 41-yard field goal in the second to make it 7-6. The Chippewas took a 7-0 lead in the first on a 16-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jonathan Ward.
Central Michigan senior quarterback Shane Morris, however, took over the game. He connected with senior tight end Tyler Conklin for a 34-yard touchdown pass and senior receiver Corey Willis for a 31-yard touchdown to make it 21-6. Ward scored a three-yard touchdown run to make it 28-6 heading into halftime.
Ball State looked like it might have righted the ship when the third quarter began. Redshirt senior defensive end Anthony Winbush, who recorded two sacks, forced a fumble that was recovered by sophomore safety Lamar Anderson on Central Michigan's 30-yard line.
But the offense couldn't get anything going and the Cardinals settled for a 43-yard field goal from Hagee to cut the deficit to 28-9.
Later in the third, Morris was back at it. On third-and-11 from the Chippewas 37, he connected with Willis for a 63-yard touchdown that made it 35-9.
Willis was wide open after some miscommunication in the secondary.
"You can't give up big ones like that," Neu said. "I don't want to sit here and give you an excuse like that. That can't happen."
Morris and Willis connected for another touchdown with 10:24 left in the fourth to put Central Michigan up 42-9.
Ball State's offense only held the ball for one play on the next drive. Blair ran for eight yards sophomore defensive back Sean Bunting forced and recovered a fumble. Bunting then pitched it to Alonzo McCoy as he was tackled and McCoy scored a defensive touchdown to make ti 49-9.
Central Michigan scored their final touchdown when redshirt freshman Kumehnnu Gwilly ran it in from 33 yards out with 2:04 remaining.
When asked if losing on Homecoming stung more than another game might have, redshirt senior offensive lineman Vinnie Palazeti had a simple answer.
Ball State hosts Toledo in its next game on Thursday, Oct. 26.