Ball St. gives new coach 27-20 upset over IndianaBy MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Sep 4, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Ball State’s players pumped their helmets in front of the student section at Lucas Oil Stadium, then walked to the sideline and did it again in front of their parents.
Hey, there was good reason to celebrate Saturday night.
Keith Wenning threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, leading the Cardinals to a 27-20 victory over Indiana in coach Pete Lembo’s debut.
Ball State has now won two in a row against Indiana. It also beat the Hoosiers in 2008.
Wenning was terrific after holding off Kelly Page in the offseason quarterback competition. He finished 23 of 29 for 173 yards, including a perfect throw on the go-ahead score. He also ran eight times for 61 yards and scored on a 1-yard plunge midway through the second quarter.
Indiana lost its season opener for the first time in eight years, and this one ruined the head coaching debut of Kevin Wilson, the former Oklahoma offensive coordinator who was hired in December.
Wilson was aggressive from the start.
His team rarely huddled, barely slowed down on play calls and gambled twice on fourth-down calls, getting a touchdown on the first one and turning the ball over on downs at the Ball State 9 in the fourth quarter.
But running plays at a breakneck pace backfired on a defense that was worn down by game’s end.
Ball State rushed for 210 yards in the game, and controlled the ball for the vast majority of the second half.
It certainly didn’t start out that way.
Indiana went 76 yards in 15 plays on its opening drive, scoring on Matt Perez’s 9-yard run when Wilson went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Ball State 9.
Ball State tied the score when Barrington Scott caught a 1-yard TD pass early in the second quarter.
Indiana then appeared to turn the game on a two-play sequence when Ball State linebacker Tony Martin dropped an interception that could have been returned for a score. On the next play, Edward Wright-Baker hurled a perfect deep ball to Demarlo Belcher, who made a twisting catch on the sideline, spun inside of the only defender that deep and jogged the final 20 yards for a 65-yard TD catch to make it 14-7.
The Cardinals were just getting started.
They tied the score on Wenning’s plunge and again at 17 when Steven Schott connected on a 38-yard field goal early in the third quarter.
Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Wenning threw a beautiful 20-yard lob to Connor Ryan in the back corner of the end zone. The play stood up to replay review and gave Ball State a 24-17 lead with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
The team’s traded field goals in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the game, and Ball State recovered Indiana’s late onside kick to seal it.
Wright-Baker was 20 of 32 for 272 yards and one touchdown for the Hoosiers.