After going into the half all knotted up at 21, Miami (Ohio) (6-6, 6-2 MAC) outscored Ball State (4-8, 3-5 MAC) 21-0 in the second half to win its third straight Red Bird Rivalry game.
Ball State grabbed an early lead on a drive full of chunk-yardage plays. A 13-yard rush and three passes of at least 16 yards set the Cardinals up at Miami’s 22. Sophomore Justin Hall took care of the rest, taking the end around to the end zone.
The RedHawks answered two possessions later on a quarterback sneak by Gus Ragland after completing passes of 25 and 17 yards.
The Cardinals wasted no time taking the lead back. On their next possession, all of redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Plitt’s abilities were on display. He threw for 31 yards, caught a ball for another 22 and finished off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown scramble.
The RedHawks had a promising start to their ensuing drive as Alonzo Smith, who finished the game with 207 rushing yards, broke free for a 46-yard gain. However, a sack and a holding penalty set up third-and-23. The Cardinal defense held firm and forced a punt.
Ball State’s lead was extended to 21-7 after redshirt junior Riley Miller made a sliding one-handed catch in the back of the end zone. Miami was quick to respond as Smith was let loose for a 56-yard touchdown run, trimming the lead to seven.
The RedHawks’ final possession of the first half started at Ball State’s 44-yard line with 46 seconds remaining. After Ragland connected with Nate Becker for 29 yards and Jack Sorenson for 7, Miami called a timeout with 22 seconds left. Ragland came out of the break and found Dominique Robinson for the game-tying touchdown, leaving five ticks on the clock.
After scoring 21 points during the first 30 minutes of play, the second half was a different story for the Cardinals.
Ragland picked up right where he left off in the third quarter, pushing the pile at the goal line for another touchdown to give the RedHawks their first lead of the game. Following an interception by the defense, Miami added to its lead with another big run by Smith – this one 47 yards. The RedHawks finished the game with 364 yards on the ground, just 18 fewer then Ball State’s total yardage.
The fourth quarter featured more of the same. Smith found the end zone for a third time, pushing Miami’s score to double that of Ball State. The Cardinals turned the ball over on downs on each of their last two possessions, and the RedHawks walked away with a win, a 6-6 record and a chance to go to a bowl game.