Cardinals unable to produce enough offensively in loss to Central Michigan

Cardinals redshirt fifth-year quarterback Drew Plitt snaps the ball during the first quarter Nov. 17, 2021, at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinals lost to the Chippewas 37-17. Jacob Musselman, DN
Cardinals redshirt fifth-year quarterback Drew Plitt snaps the ball during the first quarter Nov. 17, 2021, at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinals lost to the Chippewas 37-17. Jacob Musselman, DN

It was a tale of two halves for the Ball State (5-6, 3-4 MAC) offense Nov. 17.

The Cardinals dropped their second consecutive game in a 37-17 loss against Central Michigan (7-4, 5-2 MAC).

After gaining 272 total yards in the first half, the Cardinals produced 57 total yards in the second half.

The Cardinals converted 4-of-14 on third downs and gained four first downs in the second half. Head Coach Mike Neu attributed the failures to lack of execution and aggressiveness from the Chippewas. 

“We were 50% (on third down) at halftime, but then in the second half there, obviously we didn't do a good job,” Neu said. “There's obviously some tipped balls, they did a good job of getting some pressure a time or there on Drew (Plitt). There was a second one where they had him under pressure and he couldn't really couldn't get through his progression.”

Redshirt fifth-year quarterback Drew Plitt completed 21-of-39 passes for 170 yards and one interception. His lone touchdown came to senior wide receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler on a nine-yard fade with two minutes and 22 seconds left in the second quarter. Redshirt fifth-year wide receiver Justin Hall did not play due to injury.

Freshman running back Carson Steele scored a touchdown and gained 95 yards on 20 carries. It was his third straight game with at least 20 carries, and Steele is grateful to his coaches and teammate for the opportunity. 

“Coming into it, I didn't really know where they were going to put me,” Steele said. “(I’m) very thankful for the other running backs, because they've been helping me here and there, just learning plays and techniques, what it is to be a college running back. I’m very thankful for Coach Neu and Coach Lynch calling the plays and giving me an opportunity, or trust in me to be able to run the ball that many times.” 

The Chippewas were led by redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Richardson, who threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman running back Nicholas Lew III finished with 222 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while junior wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton led the Chippewas in receiving with seven receptions for 144 yards.

Redshirt fifth-year safety Bryce Cosby led the Cardinals with 12 tackles, while redshirt fifth-year inside linebacker Jaylin Thomas (11 tackles) and junior linebacker Clayton Coll (six tackles) each recorded one interception. 

Ball State closes its regular-season Nov. 23 against Buffalo (4-7, 2-5 MAC). Kickoff is 7 p.m.

In a rematch of the 2020 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship, Cosby said the Cardinals are focused on the present and understand the Bulls are different from last year.

“Every year is a new year,” Cosby said. “They have a new coaching staff over there, they had a couple guys transfer with the last coaching staff. We're a new team, they're a new team. 2020 is over and done, so it's just about looking at the film, seeing what they bring to the table and figuring out what we can do to manage everything that they've got going on.”

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

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