Ball State finds offensive rhythm in win over Western Michigan

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Ball State (3-3, 1-1 MAC) defeated Western Michigan (4-2, 1-1 MAC) 45-20 Saturday. It was the first win for the Cardinals in Kalamazoo, Michigan since 2013.

Redshirt fifth-year quarterback Drew Plitt completed 15-of-25 pass attempts for 310 passing yards and four touchdowns, both season-highs. His receiving core, compiled of redshirt sophomore Jalen McGaughy, fifth-year wide receiver Justin Hall, junior wide receiver Jayshon Jackson and senior wide receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler combined for 278 yards and four touchdowns.

“Yo’Heinz is a heck of a player,” Plitt said. “I have something special with all of [the receivers]. They’re one of the best receiving groups in the nation and I truly believe that. They can go up against anybody and I love each and every one of them. I trust them.” 

On the first snap of the game, McGaughy caught a 75-yard touchdown, his first of the season. Tyler finished with five receptions for 93 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while Hall hauled in three receptions for 49 yards and one touchdown. His 33-yard score put the Cardinals up 24-20 near the end of the third quarter. Jackson totaled 61 yards on three receptions. Head Coach Mike Neu believes the continued success of the receiving unit helped the offense carry over its success from last week.

“Credit to the guys for building off last week’s performance,” Neu said. “We did a lot of positive things in the game last week. We knew we were facing a similar style of team that likes to possess the football, our guys knew that when we have opportunities to make plays, we’ve got to make them [and] Drew delivered some huge throws.”

Cardinals senior wide receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler signals for a first down after a catch Oct. 2, 2021, at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinals beat the Black Knights 28-16. Jacob Musselman, DN

The win marked Ball State’s second consecutive victory, and Neu believes the Cardinals can build off of it. 

“(We) got to keep working,” Neu said. “We’ll be on to the next opponent tomorrow. We’ve just got to keep building, keep working hard, keep stacking days, keep making sure we put it out there on the practice field and keep building our confidence.”

The Cardinals defense forced four turnovers, a stat fifth-year senior safety Bryce Cosby attributes to the complete buy-in’ from both players and coaches.

“It’s hand in hand,” Cosby said. “[The] coaches are super bought in every week, you see them in the facility upstairs grinding [and] trying to get the game plan together. The players, we’re just buying in, trusting our coaches, and knowing that they’re going to put us in the best position possible and putting it all together on Saturday.”

Ball State travels across the state of Michigan next to face Eastern Michigan (4-2, 1-1 MAC) Saturday, Oct. 16. Kickoff is 2 p.m. 

Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at daniel.kehn@bsu.edu or on Twitter @kehn_daniel.

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