Ball State blows out Eastern Michigan, Toledo tops CMU

By Ross Gienieczko

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Keith Wenning threw for 317 yards and Jahwan Edwards ran for three touchdowns as the Ball State football team went on the road Saturday and blew out Eastern Michigan, 51-20.

Wenning, who threw for two scores, moved to second in the nation in passing yards after his performance Saturday, his fourth straight game passing for over 300 yards.

Not to be overlooked, the Ball State (3-1, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) offensive line paved the way for six different rushers to gain 197 yards and five touchdowns. Edwards led the Cardinals in rushing, carrying the ball 15 times for 81 yards in addition to his three scores.

Eastern Michigan (1-3, 0-1 MAC) opened the scoring when running back Darius Jackson ran in from seven yards out with 11:27 to go in the first quarter, but it was all downhill from there. The subsequent extra point was blocked and Ball State responded with 27 straight points before the quarter ended. It was a trying day for the Eagles, who turned the ball over four times and committed nine penalties for 81 yards.

Wenning was not the only Cardinal to move up in the national leaderboards, as wide receiver Willie Snead hauled in nine passes for 175 yards to move to third in the country in receiving.

Eastern Michigan is off next week, while Ball State returns to MAC action with a home contest against Toledo at 3 p.m.

Toledo downs CMU

Toledo used two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away from a scrappy Central Michigan squad, winning its MAC opener 38-17. Running back David Fluellen was the workhorse for the Rockets (2-2, 1-0), as he had 32 carries for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

Jeffrey Smith/Flickr

The Chippewas (1-3, 0-1 MAC) remained competitive throughout, heading into the fourth quarter trailing just 24-17. But their four turnovers held them back as quarterback Cooper Rush threw two interceptions and was strip-sacked twice. Toledo turned those mistakes into 21 points, which turned out to be the margin of victory.

The Rockets went to the ground in the fourth quarter to put the game away, with Fluellen alone rushing for 79 yards. Toledo totaled 113 yards on the ground in the fourth and did not call a single passing play all quarter.

Next week, the Rockets travel to Ball State for an early season showdown of current MAC West leaders at 3 p.m. Things don’t get any easier for Central Michigan, as they go on the road to face a North Carolina State team that limited the high-octane Clemson offense to only 26 points last Saturday.

NIU avoids upset

Trailing 20-0 in the first quarter, host Northern Illinois (3-0) rallied behind quarterback Jordan Lynch to defeat Football Championship Subdivision foe Eastern Illinois, 43-39.

Lynch was versatile for the Huskies on Saturday, throwing for 235 yards and one score while also leading the team in rushing with 23 carries for 189 yards. When Lynch wasn’t running himself, it was running back Cameron Stingily who picked up the slack, gaining 134 yards behind a Northern Illinois line that paved the way for 367 total rushing yards.

The teams combined for well over 1,000 total yards of offense in a game that saw 11 touchdowns and several strong individual performances. Panthers (3-1) quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 450 passing yards and six scores. His main targets were wideouts Erik Lora (14 catches, 198 yards, three touchdowns) and Adam Drake (8,137, 2).

Eastern Illinois scored with 9:53 left to play and held a brief 39-36 lead. For a moment, it looked as if they might pull off the upset. But it took the Huskies less than two minutes to respond as running back Keith Harris Jr. scored what proved to be the go-ahead points of the game to give Northern Illinois the lead for good.

Northern Illinois travels to Purdue for a showdown with the Big Ten’s Boilermakers next Saturday at noon while Eastern Illinois returns home for a matchup with Eastern Kentucky at 2:30 p.m.

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected]