'Cardiac Cardinals' strike again

Carson Steele rushes up the middle for a nine-yard gain to the UConn 15-yard line. 

Carson Steele rushes to the left for a 13-yard gain and hurdles a defender for the first down. 

Carson Steele rushes up the middle for a two-yard touchdown run.

Three plays from Ball State football’s win over UConn sum up sophomore runningback Carson Steele’s day.

And no, Steele said hurdling is not included during Ball State’s practices. 

“You watch the NFL [and] you see some of these dudes jumping over people; it’s like ‘man, why not try it,’” Steele said.

The Greenwood, Indiana native rushed for 179 yards on 32 attempts and three touchdowns in Ball State’s third consecutive come-from-behind win.

“There’s no such thing as an ugly win,” head coach Mike Neu said. “Obviously, we work hard every week to try to execute at a high level in all three phases. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way, but I think what needs to be emphasized and talked about more than anything else is the character of our football team, the leadership of our football team [and] the fight of our football team because those are huge wins.”

Despite a rushing touchdown from Steele in the first quarter, the Cardinals endured a tumultuous performance in the first half that saw 182 total offensive yards to UConn’s 270. On defense, the Cardinals looked to be playing catchup as the Huskie’s rushing attack averaged 6.7 yards per carry and moved freely down the field with explosive plays.  

But Ball State has proven in its last two games it is never too early for a comeback.

Against Northern Illinois, the Cardinals were down by 21 points at halftime and came back to win in double overtime.

Against Central Michigan on the road, their first lead was halfway through the fourth quarter, and the Cardinals held on to win.

You know where this is going.

Second-year running back Carson Steele (left) celebrates scoring a touchdown with first-year wide receiver Nick Presley (right) in a game against University of Connecticut Oct. 15 at Scheumann Stadium. Steele scored three touchdowns during the game. Amber Pietz, DN

Out of the locker room, Ball State’s defense shut out the Huskies in the second half, kicked off by an interception from redshirt junior middle linebacker Cole Pearce.

“After that pick, we knew,” redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Travion Woodard said. “We knew right there the game had changed and it was on us to keep going, drive and pick up that energy.”

The offense converted two field goals from graduate student kicker Ben VonGunten in the third quarter before Steele provided the AED for the ‘Cardiac Cardinals' in the final frame.

The defensive side of the ball acted as a 12th man on offense as senior cornerback Amechi Uzodinma recovered a fumble to allow Steele to make it 21-19. Then, junior outside linebacker Sidney Houston and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman John Harris sacked UConn’s freshman quarterback Zion Turner in back-to-back plays leading to Steele’s 17-yard touchdown to take the lead 25-21.

“Those plays matter,” Woodard said. “You know, it makes me excited because I see the team get juiced up. Everybody gets juiced up; it gives me a little pump, it gives me energy [and] makes me want to go harder.”

That ‘Cardiac Cardinals’ moniker popped in and out of conversations from fans as they left Scheumann Stadium. It could be heard around the team facility as players and coaches filtered out as if emphasizing the idea that this team would hang around until the bitter end.

“I feel like we’re a championship team,” sophomore safety Jordan Riley said. “I mean, I came into the seasons thinking we’re a championship team. The games at the beginning of the season were the games at the beginning of the season; we’re not worried about them. It’s one at a time. Now we’re 0-0 again [and] ready for next week.”

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


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