Miami Sports Day

FAU Tops Ball State on the Road for First Win

MUNCIE, Ind. – Florida Atlantic University picked up win No. 1 of the season, topping Ball State on Saturday at Scheumann Stadium, 41-31.

The Owls’ defense swarmed the Cardinals for four turnovers and posted 10 tackles for loss, while wide receiver John Mitchell had a career day as he tied the all-time program record with three touchdown catches

“I think there’s a sense of excitement but there’s also a sense of relief,” said head coach Lane Kiffin. “We’re down 14-7 even though we’re kind of outplaying them, you know, here we go again. I think that the changing point was right before half … being able to go down there and score was a big deal.”

Jordan Williams’ fumble recoveries on back-to-back scrimmage plays, including one returned for a touchdown, gave the Family Weekend crowd something to cheer about early. But the Cardinals (1-2) finished with four turnovers of their own on a sometimes wild afternoon that featured nearly 1,000 combined yards and six total takeaways.

FAU quarterback Chris Robison threw for 366 yards and connected with receiver John Mitchell for three of his four touchdown passes on the day.

The Owls (1-2), coming off opening losses to top-20 teams Ohio State and UCF, scored late in the second quarter to take a 21-17 lead into the break and then pulled away in the second half.

“Fixing the turnover margin is something we’ve emphasized from day one,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said. “We can’t have the self-inflicted wounds. Guys fought. The effort was good. But overcoming four turnovers is difficult.”

 

Ball State looked primed to grab the lead back on its second possession of the third quarter after a 46-yard connection from Drew Plitt to Riley Miller and two straight 13-yard runs from Caleb Huntley. But Huntley lost the ball when he was hit at the 4-yard line on the second of those carries, and FAU recovered in the endzone for a touchback.

The Owls moved down the field in just 1:30 and scored on a Larry McCammon touchdown run. So instead of taking the lead, the Cardinals found themselves trailing 28-17. FAU led by double digits the rest of the way.

Ball State’s best shot to make it interesting came early in the fourth quarter when it was down, 34-24. After scoring on a Plitt-to-Malik Dunner connection and forcing an FAU punt, the Cardinals had the ball near midfield. But Plitt was stripped while attempting to pass, and the Owls recovered. James Charles scored for FAU seven plays later.

Ball State added a late touchdown from Plitt to Antwan Davis, the third scoring connection for that duo in the past two games, but FAU recovered the Cardinals’ onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.

Plitt, the MAC’s leading passer, threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns, while Huntley ran for 86 yards on 14 carries.

 

Williams scored the first BSU defensive touchdown in five seasons, picking up a fumble forced by Chris Crumb and racing 60 yards down the sideline. Bryce Cosby forced another fumble on FAU’s next offensive snap, and Williams recovered it again. The Cardinals scored just one play later when Plitt found a wide open Yo’Heinz Tyler in the corner of the end zone for a 14-7 lead.

“We’ve been wanting to score a defensive touchdown, that’s been on our list,” Williams said. I thought my teammates were happier than I was. The energy definitely went up.”

But that was Ball State’s last touchdown until the final minute of the third quarter.

“Things can change fast during the course of a football game,” Neu said. “Our guys battled, but you can’t tun the ball over like that, no matter what team you are playing against, and expect to win.”

 

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