Toledo wins big over Ball State in sloppy game of turnovers

<p>Schuemann Stadium reflects off of a fan's sunglasses during Ball State's game against Eastern Michigan Oct. 20, 2018. Ball State lost 42-20 on Homecoming. Paige Grider, DN</p>

Schuemann Stadium reflects off of a fan's sunglasses during Ball State's game against Eastern Michigan Oct. 20, 2018. Ball State lost 42-20 on Homecoming. Paige Grider, DN

In a game with a total of seven interceptions and six fumbles, Toledo (5-4, 3-2 MAC) emerged victorious 45-13 at home over Ball State (3-7, 2-4 MAC).

It didn’t take long for the game’s first turnover, as a Cardinal fumble had the Rockets rolling early on. After converting on a fourth down, Bryant Koback wasted no time getting into the end zone on a 19-yard scramble for the first touchdown of the game.

Following another score on their next possession, the Rockets’ defense got involved. On a third down for the Cardinals, Terrance Taylor sacked redshirt sophomore Drew Plitt, and the ball came loose. The ball rolled into Ball Sate’s end zone, and Toledo’s Tuzar Skipper pounced on it to extend the lead to 21-0.

“We got ourselves into a hole really early – 21 points right out of the gate early in the first quarter,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said. “We fought back. We battled back, but when we did create some of those turnovers, we didn’t capitalize on that when we had an opportunity to maybe get some momentum back.”

The Cardinals’ next drive to start the second quarter was highlighted by Plitt’s arm on the last three plays. After a 21-yard strike to freshman Yo’Heinz Tyler and a 19-yard completion to sophomore Justin Hall, Plitt found redshirt junior Riley Miller for an 18-yard touchdown to get the Cardinals on the board.

Interceptions by each team set Toledo up for its next possession. Koback capped it off with his second touchdown of the game, this one from three yards out. The Cardinals couldn’t add to their score before the half and went into the locker room down 28-7.

“Our guys fought and competed,” Neu said. “I was proud obviously of the turnovers we created – the ball skills and some of the plays those guys made when you talk about making the available plays. At the end of the day, we had three fumbles, we had two interceptions.”

The Rockets began the second half by throwing their fourth interception of the game. The Cardinals looked to have a promising drive going until sacks on consecutive plays forced them to punt. Art Thompkins was the lead back on Toledo’s following possession. He rushed for 57 yards before the team settled for a field goal.

Right before the clock ran out in the third quarter, Plitt, who finished the game with 340 passing yards, connected with Miller for 47 yards down to the Rockets’ 28-yard line. The Cardinals found the end zone a few plays later after junior Malik Dunner broke a tackle and plowed forward for an 11-yard score.

“Drew [Plitt] competed. I thought there was a lot of positive things about his performance to build on,” Neu said. “I though he gave himself a lot of confidence and made some impressive throws… There’s a lot to be encouraged about by some of the throws that he made.”

The Rockets answered on their ensuing possession on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Eli Peters to Cody Thompson. Toledo would add one final score late in the game on a 41-yard bomb. The Rockets walked away with a 45-13 victory and a winning record.

That marks Ball State’s third consecutive loss heading into a bye week. The Cardinals will play next Tuesday, Nov. 13 at home against Western Michigan.

Contact Zach Piatt with comments at zapiatt@bsu.edu or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.

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