An injury-depleted Ball State offense pounded its way to a 31-24 Mid-American Conference football victory Friday at Miami University in the final game of the regular season.
The Cardinals ground out 226 rushing yards and sophomore Jahwan Edwards ran for three touchdowns as Ball State matched the third-best win total in school history with nine. The Cardinals ended the regular season at 9-3 overall (6-2 MAC), while Miami closed its campaign at 4-8 (3-5 MAC).
"It was a gutsy win," Ball State coach Pete Lembo said in a release. "I am so proud of our kids. We had a lot of adversity today but saw a lot of good things happen. I'm sure we will watch the film tomorrow and see some things we didn't like, but there were a lot of good things that happened today."
Ball State entered the contest with starting quarterback Keith Wenning out because of an injury and then lost fifth-year senior quarterback Kelly Page early in the third quarter with Ball State leading 21-14.
Enter true freshman walk-on Kyle Kamman, who saw the first action of his college career to bring the Cardinals home for the sixth straight win.
Ball State turned to Edwards and fellow running back Horactio Banks to pad its lead and then close out the win. Three plays after Page left, Kamman handed off to Edwards, who rushed 17 yards for his third score to give Ball State a 28-14 lead with 8:37 left in the third period.
Edwards' TD was his 14th of the season and moved him to third on Ball State's single-season list.
Less than six minutes later, the Cardinals drove 65 yards on 12 plays, culminating in a Steven Schott 27-yard field goal to put them ahead 31-14 with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
Miami made a late rally, scoring on a Zac Dysert pass to Jamire Westbrook and getting a field goal from Kaleb Patterson with 3:44 left to cut Ball State's lead to 31-24. The Cardinals defense held in the red zone to hold the RedHawks to the field goal and keep Ball State ahead by a touchdown.
The Cardinals' offense then picked up a key first down on a 16-yard run from Banks before punting with 30 seconds left in the game. Miami muffed the punt and Ball State recovered to seal the victory.
Edwards finished with 98 yards on 18 carries, coming up 2 yards shy of his sixth straight 100-yard game. Banks added 80 yards on 22 carries.
"We knew we had to run it, and they knew we were going to run it," Lembo said. "We had to control the ball and take time off the clock. We did a great job of that in the second half."
Page ran for 53 yards of his own and threw for 137 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game. He led Ball State on an eight-play, 47-yard drive that culminated with an Edwards 5-yard touchdown run on the Cardinals' first possession of the game.
Miami evened the score, 7-7, on a 3-yard run by Dawan Scott, but the Cardinals closed out the first-quarter scoring on a Page 18-yard scoring pass to Jack Tomlinson to take a 14-7 lead. It marked Tomlinson's first TD catch of the season and the ninth of his career. It was the third TD pass in two games for Page and the 14th of his career.
With 6:46 to go in the second quarter, Edwards rushed in from 2 yards out for his second touchdown of the game to give the Cardinals a 21-7 lead after the Schott extra point. Schott's point after marked his 30th in a row and moved him into a tie for the sixth-longest streak in Ball State history. Schott earlier this season ended a streak of 55 consecutive extra points made, which stands as the second-best streak in school annals.
The Cardinals followed up the touchdown with an onside kick, recovered by placekicker Scott Secor. Ball State took over on its own 47-yard line but could not capitalize. Scott Kovanda, one of the three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation's most outstanding punter, pinned Miami on the 7-yard line, one of three times in the game he pinned the RedHawks inside the 20.
Two possessions later, the RedHawks closed the gap to 21-14 with 23 seconds left in the half on a 34-yard pass from Dysert to Scott.
Dysert led the Miami offensive attack, finishing the game 26-of-40 through the air for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
Ball State's nine-win season is the sixth in school history. The Cardinals won their final five MAC games and their final four road contests.