At the start of the second quarter against Kent State, Ball State football found themselves down 13 points. Then after a punt from Kent State, the Cardinals found their stride and were on the move.
That was when sophomore running back Carson Steele broke free and took off for a 15-yard rushing touchdown. This would kick off a 20-point unanswered run for Ball State.
“I’m super excited to keep on rolling, and you know, to try to be a weapon all over the field,” Steele said. “You know, trying to catch balls and to have big amounts of carries and just trying to take off a workload for the wide receivers and John [Paddock]."
The Cardinals started off the game like they often have this season: behind. After two field goals and a passing touchdown, Kent State led 0-13 at the end of the first quarter, but after putting some points on the board through Steele, Ball State's would step up.
Junior inside linebacker Clayton Coll talked about what his thoughts were when his team was down early.
“We went down 13 and I've been in games before where you get down early,” he said. “We came here for a win and that is what we wanted. And I just felt like the whole time like, we're gonna win this game. Even down 13 to zero, I thought this was manageable.”
During Ball State’s first offensive drive, redshirt-junior quarterback John Paddock threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted. Head Coach Mike Neu praised Paddock for staying calm and performing well.
“It speaks to his character and his toughness mentally and physically,” he said. “You know, to battle through that and to not blank to start the game like that on Play number two. But you know, he handled himself awesome tonight, and had the best game he's had all year.”
Later in the second quarter, Paddock found fourth-year wide receiver Jayshon Jackson for a 43-yard touchdown pass. After a successful field goal a few minutes later, Ball State led the game at halftime 17-13.
Ball State would get another field goal during the early third quarter and extend their lead 20-13.
At the end of the third quarter, Ball State was still up a touchdow and at that point in the game, the Cardinals defense had kept the opposing offense at bay.
At the 13:22 mark during the fourth quarter, the Cardinals found themselves with a third-and-one situation. The ball was taken by Steele as he picked up the first down and on that play, he officially became the eighth running back in college football to reach 1,000-yards this season.
“You know, I try not to focus on you know, personal stats, but you know, it's just a true blast feeling,” Steele said. “But I kind of give props to my offensive line.”.
With 6:08 left in the game, Kent State finally found some momentum and scored on a touchdown run to tie the game up 20-20.
After the Cardinals received the kick, they marched down the field. Paddock had multiple completions to a variety of targets. But then Steele took it for himself and ripped off a 37-yard run.
He would finish the game with 29 carries for 192 yards and one touchdown. This is his fourth game this season with 100 plus rushing yards.
Two plays later, Paddock found first-year tight end Tanner Koziol for a touchdown. On the next drive, the defense stopped Kent State on fourth and three to capture a 27-20 victory for Ball State.
With the win, Ball State (5-4, 3-2 MAC) is now one win away from bowl eligibility. To Neu, he is focused on next week.
“It's on to Toledo and obviously, you know, they're sitting on top of the west right now,” he said. “So it's another huge game for us.”