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Late TD lifts Ball State to upset win at Toledo

The SportsXchange

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Needing a win to stay alive in the Mid-American Conference West Division title chase, Ball State put together a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to beat No. 25 Toledo 34-27 Tuesday night.

The Cardinals (7-3, 4-2 MAC) snapped Toledo's eight-game winning streak and won their fourth straight, their third in a row on the road.

"It doesn't get any better than this," Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. "Our guys just hang in there and keep battling."

Jahwan Edwards scored on a 15-yard run with 1:43 left, giving Ball State its fourth win this season on a late-fourth-quarter possession.

Toledo (8-2, 5-1) failed to convert a fourth-and-1 play at the Cardinals' 14-yard line with six minutes to play and the game tied. Ball State then went the other way for the decisive score.

"It's one of those situations where we didn't play our best football game," Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. "We didn't execute in critical situations, and when you don't do that, it sneaks up on you."

Ball State had to overcome three interceptions thrown by quarterback Keith Wenning, who also threw three touchdown passes.

Tailback David Fluellen gained 200 yards on 34 carries for Toledo, which next faces a must-win game against MAC West leader Northern Illinois on Nov. 14.

"We're going to have to bounce back," Campbell said. "But the great thing about it is we still control our own destiny."

The Cardinals lost an early two-touchdown lead, and the teams were tied 17-17 at the half. Ball State went back in front on its first possession of the second half when Wenning hit Jamill Smith with a 3-yard touchdown pass.

Toledo's Jeremiah Detmer kicked a 22-yard field goal to pull the Rockets within 24-20 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.

On Ball State's next play, Toledo linebacker Dan Molls intercepted a Wenning pass and set the Rockets up at the Ball State 25. Fluellen scored on a fourth-down play from the 16-yard line, and Toledo had its first lead of the night at 27-24 as the fourth quarter opened, but Ball State came right back.

"We're not a great team," Lembo said, "but we're a team. We're together. We ride out the highs and lows, and we keep believing."

The Cardinals evened the score again with a 30-yard field goal from Steven Schott with under 10 minutes to play. Toledo then drove from its 18-yard line to the Ball State 14 before Fluellen was stuffed on a fourth-down run.

"Mainly my fault on that play," Fluellen said. "The hole was there. A guy was there in the hole, but it's my job to get the first down no matter what."

Cardinals linebacker Tony Martin told the Ball State Daily News, "That was huge, that's what won the game for us. We were pretty sure they were going to run the ball, so we dialed it up. (Defensive coordinator Jay) Bateman had a great play call, and we stopped them."

Ball State got off to a hot start, scoring on its first two possessions behind Wenning, who connected on 12 passes in a row.

Wenning first picked his way down the field and eventually found Smith for a 6-yard touchdown. Schott's extra point gave Ball State a 7-0 lead about four minutes into the game.

After a Toledo punt, Wenning quickly moved the Cardinals to the Toledo 25, then hit Connor Ryan with a touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.

The Rockets settled down behind the running of Fluellen, who broke loose for 31 yards, then had a 36-yard touchdown run called back. On the next play, Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens found Bernard Reedy open in the end zone for a 24-yard score. Detmer's kick brought the Rockets within 14-7 with 1:30 left in the opening quarter.

After Toledo forced a three-and-out as the quarter ended, Owens hit Reedy on 32- and 13-yard connections, and a late hit moved the Rockets deeper into Ball State territory. Toledo had to settle for a 29-yard Detmer field goal and a 14-10 deficit after a penalty negated a Fluellen touchdown for a second time. It was one of 10 penalties that haunted the Rockets.

"Unfortunately, we learned a tough lesson tonight, across the board," Campbell said about the miscues.

An exchange of turnovers followed the Detmer field goal, with Toledo's Byron Best intercepting Wenning inside the Toledo 20, and Martin picking up a Fluellen fumble at the Cardinals' 35 and taking it back 54 yards to the Rockets' 11.

A penalty-plagued possession left the Cardinals with a 24-yard Schott field goal and a 17-10 lead.

Toledo subsequently marched 84 yards in eight plays to even the score at the half, with Cassius McDowell scoring on a 4-yard run.

"I thought we had a great game plan coming in," Lembo said. "We overcame three turnovers, and that's hard to do ... whether it's at home, on the road or against a team that's this good."

NOTES: Ball State lost tight end David Schneider for the remainder of the season when he dislocated his ankle early in the first quarter. Schneider had to be carted off the field. ... Toledo starting safety Mark Singer, who injured his knee the previous week against Buffalo, was a late scratch from the active roster. ... At 32 years old, Campbell is the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
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