“Tough times never last, tough people do:” Ball State wins 20-17 over Northern Illinois

Freshman kicker Jackson Courville attempts a field goal in a game against Toledo Oct. 14 at Scheumann Stadium. Courville's two field goals accounted for all of Ball State's points in the 13-6 loss. Daniel Kehn, DN
Freshman kicker Jackson Courville attempts a field goal in a game against Toledo Oct. 14 at Scheumann Stadium. Courville's two field goals accounted for all of Ball State's points in the 13-6 loss. Daniel Kehn, DN

After missing a potential game-tying field goal last week, it could be easy for freshman kicker Jackson Courville to still be shaky from the moment. 

Although he attempted four field goals and only two went in against Northern Illinois University, only one mattered. 

The one that mattered most was the walk-off 36-yard field goal that sealed the 20-17 win for Ball State in their Battle for the Bronze Stalk against the Huskies.  

Leading up to the kick, Courville said he was focused on keeping things consistent. Seeing the ball go through, taking the steps and swinging the leg through.

Even after facing adversity with missing kicks earlier in the game, Courville stuck to his routine and said he was just thankful to have every opportunity.

“It is about the rebound and not what happened earlier,” Courville said. “Those guys stuck with me and believed in me.” 

“When you come up short, you have to have a short-term memory about it.” 

It was not just Courville with the short-term memory. After the Bowling Green loss, Neu said he sensed no lingering feelings about that game. He said the first day of practice the group responded and was ready to go back to work. 

“Tough times never last, tough people do,” Neu said. 

Neu said the fight he saw in the team was great, saying that each person laid themselves on the line for the men beside them. 

“I love our football team,” Neu said. “I am just proud of the fight and resilience.”

Neu said celebrating the victory on the field with the team was a special moment and was glad he could celebrate with a group who had worked so hard throughout the week. 

One of those players celebrating with Neu was redshirt sophomore Kiael Kelly. With his fourth start against the Huskies, Neu said he sees Kelly put the work in every week. 

“He is just getting more and more mature and getting better and better,” Neu said. 

Kelly had a career-best night in his second win as the man under center. 

His 25 passing attempts and his 115 yards through the air were the most of his career. His touchdown through the air was the first passing touchdown of his career. 

“First one of my career… to finally get that weight off of my shoulders and get that first one in, it felt great,” Kelly said. 

Kelly said the opening drive that resulted in a touchdown had the same feeling as the one against Central Michigan. He said the goal was to come out and punch them in the mouth to set the tone of the game. 

“We executed to the best of our abilities on that drive and we see how it ended,” Kelly said. “Anytime the offense stays on schedule and doesn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we do pretty good.” 

With his fourth start, some could expect Kelly to be anxious. The reality is Kelly is as even-keeled as ever. He said at the end of the day, it is just football, a game he has been playing all of his life. 

“My older brother used to tell me, ‘If you are scarred go to church,’” Kelly said. “[I] can’t be out there scared.”

With sophomore tight end Tanner Koziol not having any receptions last week against Bowling Green, today he was able to get the connection going with three catches, 22 yards and a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

Kelly said the kick gave Courville a chance to show people what he was made of. Kelly said that is exactly what Courville did, show people what he was made of. 

With the Cardinal defense converting in big moments, Kelly said the offense feeds off their energy.

When the defense is out on the field, Neu said you can expect them to wreak havoc. Flying to the ball, being physical and playing hard coverage. 

One of those plays where they were able to wreak havoc was a forced fumble that ended up in the graduate student linebacker Mikhari Sibblis's hands. He said it was huge to be able to get the ball back into the offense's hands and let them have an opportunity to score. 

The Huskies ran multiple trick plays, one of them resulting in an over 40-yard rushing touchdown. Sibblis said with the shorter week of preparation, it was tough to prepare for, but he said the group fell back on their fundamentals to help stop it. 

Although it is added as just another win, Sibblis said it feels different with it being a rivalry game with a traveling trophy. 

“You have to have that mentality of keep going, keep going,” Sibblis said. “Not everything is going to go your way so you have to stick to one play at a time.”

Contact Elijah Poe via email at elijah.poe@bsu.edu or on X @ElijahPoe4.


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