Ball State offensive woes continue in road loss to Wyoming

Cardinals redshirt fifth-year senior quarterback Drew Plitt Sept. 2, 2021, at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinals beat Western Illinois in the home opener 31-21. Jacob Musselman, DN
Cardinals redshirt fifth-year senior quarterback Drew Plitt Sept. 2, 2021, at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinals beat Western Illinois in the home opener 31-21. Jacob Musselman, DN

The Cardinals are on their first losing streak since Nov. 2019.

Ball State (1-2, 0-0 MAC) lost 45-12 against Wyoming (3-0, 0-0 MWC) Saturday afternoon. The Cowboys defense held Ball State to 142 passing yards, and got off to a 31-0 start by halftime.

Head Coach Mike Neu believes the Cardinals offense suffered from their own failure to execute.  

“It wasn't anything specific that they did,” Neu said. “It's just a matter of us going out and executing. When you talk about execution, if you have one guy in any given play that's not on the same page or not doing his job, certainly it can be a negative result. When you have a missed assignment or enough missed assignments on more than one play, it can be a bad result.”

Neu said fifth-year offensive lineman Curtis Blackwell was ruled out just before the game, forcing fifth-year offensive lineman Anhtony Todd to start at guard. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ethan Crowe earned his first career start at center.  

Fifth-year quarterback Drew Plitt threw 60 yards on 8-of-14 passing. He also threw an interception, which was returned for a touchdown from Cowboys senior linebacker Keyon Blankenbaker.

Junior quarterback John Paddock replaced Plitt at halftime, and finished 13-of-20 for 82 yards . He also threw an interception in the fourth quarter, which was returned for a touchdown from Wyoming senior linebacker Chad Muma. 

Junior wide receiver Jayshon Jackson led the Cardinals in receiving with 10 receptions for 92 yards. Overall, Neu wants to see his receiving group win more of their individual matchups.  

Ball State Cardinals redshirt junior running back Will Jones celebrates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas Dec. 5, 2020, at Kelly/ Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich. The Cardinals beat the Chippewas 45-20. Jacob Musselman, DN

“We’ve got to win one-on-one matchups, it's as simple as that,” Neu said. “It starts with making sure that when we have an opportunity, we’ve got to win our one-on-one. We have to make sure we execute that in practice, and it's got to carry over to the game”

With under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Cardinals scored their first points of the game on a touchdown from redshirt senior Will Jones. Jones finished with 47 yards on 10 carries.

Freshman running back Carson Steele rushed for a 19-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 38-12 in the fourth quarter. Steele tallied 76 yards on 13 carries. Steele has three touchdowns on the season, which is a team-high. 

“My mindset was just run hard and run angry,” Jones said. “(We) just wanted to finish the game. That’s the same mindset for Carson too.”

The Cowboys were led by sophomore quarterback Sean Chambers, who threw for 201 yards on 14-of-23 passing. Chambers also rushed seven times for 21 yards and a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Isaiah Neyor led Wyoming receivers with four catches for 84 yards. Junior running back Xazavian Valladay rushed 14 times for 61 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys were 5-of-5 in scoring chances within the redzone.

“It’s a short field, so it's on all levels of the defense to establish the line of scrimmage,” fifth-year defensive back Bryce Cosby said. "It’s really just honing in on where we are in the field and doing what is necessary to get a stop.”

Ball State returns to action Sept. 25 against Toledo (1-2, 0-0 MAC). It is the first Mid-American Conference game of the season. 

Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at clbowles@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cbowles01.

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