Ball State falls to Eastern Michigan 24-10, remains winless in MAC

The Cardinals have lost back-to-back Mid-American Conference games after they fell to Eastern Michigan 24-10.

After falling to Eastern Michigan 24-10 on Saturday afternoon, Ball State is now 1-5 for the first time since 2014.

“It comes down to execution,” Cardinals' head coach Mike Neu said. “I thought we had a couple of opportunities and we missed some, so we'll just have to keep attacking that.”

During the Mid-American Conference (MAC) matchup in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the Cardinals saw a multitude of things that could have changed the outcome of this game. While the Cardinals have attempted to dissolve the issues of unnecessary penalties, they made their appearance once again.

“You never want to get penalties and in certain situations, that hurts us a lot,” sophomore tight end Tanner Koziol said. “...Whether it's a pre-snap penalty or post-snap penalty, [we need to] continue to lock in and play clean football.”

Koziol has been one of the Cardinals' go-to targets. Today's game was no different. He finished the contest with six receptions for 48 yards. He also scored Ball State’s lone touchdown.

While Koziol and redshirt sophomore running back Marquez Cooper (62 receiving yards, 48 rushing yards) both had positive days offensively, there were still issues. Ball State’s pass game had some struggles against the Eagles (3-3, 1-1 MAC) as they failed to move the ball through the air.

“We just weren't executing plays at the end of the day,” Koziol said. “It was just execution and [not finishing] finishing the plays.”

Graduate student quarterback Layne Hatcher went 20-for-33 with 132 passing yards and one touchdown pass. Ball State also used redshirt sophomore quarterback Kiael Kelly during the game. He only threw two passes, but his feet were on full display as he rushed for 104 yards.

Even though freshman quarterback Kadin Semonza has had some playing time this season, Neu made today's game plan for Hatcher and Kelly.

When it came to the defense, there were some positives. Redshirt senior linebacker Cole Pierce led the Cardinals with ten tackles (seven assisted, three solo) and forced a fumble.

“I think we all give great effort in every single game,” Pierce said. “...I think [our defense is] continuing to trust each other more and communicate better and better every single week. I think we just need to continue to do that and stay positive and look on the bright side of things to continue to get better.”

While Ball State had issues in multiple moments of the game, the second quarter was a period when the Cardinals struggled. But Ball State has seen that throughout the year as opponents have outscored them 96-24 in the quarter.

“We're not executing,” Neu said. “There's no other way to slice it up. We're just not executing and not playing the way we need to play there in the second quarter.”

Another key factor for Ball State is the team’s health. While they have lost many key pieces like senior linebacker Clayton Cole and redshirt sophomore tight end Brady Hunt, Koziol doesn't use that as an excuse.

“We're all division one football players,” he said. “We got recruited to play here for a reason.”

With the loss, the Cardinals are now 0-2 in the MAC. To improve, Neu believes that watching tape can lift the Cardinals out of their slump.

“We look at everything,” he said. “...We've discussed that we look at everything. There are no excuses and I'm not making any excuses. It's not good enough.”

Ball State will attempt to acquire their first MAC win as they face Toledo in Muncie on Saturday, Oct. 14. The game is set to begin at 2 p.m.

Contact Zach Carter with comments at or on X @ZachCarter85.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...