Eagles Prevail in Homecoming Matchup

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Entering Saturday, the two teams had never met. Ball State quickly introduced themselves from the opening kickoff with a ferocious hit by linebacker Cole Pearce of the Cardinals.

The Eagles responded by marching down the field, led by quarterback Kyle Vantrease only to be held to a field goal in the red zone after several sloppy plays.

The Cardinals answered with a field goal of their own after a run-dependent drive, tying things at three apiece. Trevon Locke made his presence known, accounting for two tackles during the drive.

As the first quarter concluded after numerous failed attempts to spread the defense with screen passes, the Eagles were forced to settle for a second field goal.

As the over-under on this game was 61.5, the crowd’s energy dissipated minute after minute. Running back Jalen White ended the silence after a massive gain of 44 yards leading to the Eagle’s first touchdown coming with just 5 minutes left in the first half.

Two and a half minutes later, the Cardinals answered with a touchdown of their own, resulting in a score of 13-10.

Vantrease dished out 27 first-half passes, which tallies for the most attempts he has thrown since he became an Eagle in 2021. Before the game, he had 152 attempts in just three games which are already tied for the tenth most in a single season for an Eagles quarterback.

“We just had to get our feet wet in the first half before jumping all the way in; sometimes a halftime adjustment is all these guys need,” said Linebackers coach Aaron Schwanz.

The Cardinals made use of receiving the second-half kickoff taking 6 minutes off the clock while being able to tack on 3, tying the game at thirteen a piece.

On the very next drive, Vantrease was able to air out the cardinals with a 53-yard bomb before running into the end zone the next play.

The third quarter was a game of chess, with each team moving piece for piece with the end score tied at twenty.

As the sun went down and the fourth quarter began, a win was still up for grabs from both sides. An early punt forced defensive coach Will Harris’s defense to step up again. “LETS GO EAGLES,” chants rained down.

Yet again, the Cardinals were held to a field goal, putting some pressure on Vantrease and the offensive. After a controversial face mask, the Eagles were left with a 3rd and 18. On a surprise run call, White would take it to the house.

The Eagle’s defense prevailed after a series of down-the-field attacks forcing an uncommon Cardinals punt.

Instead of running the clock out, the offense looked to score as Vantrease found his wide-out Burgess Jr. to extend the lead to 34-23. Fans erupted as Burgess Jr. strode into the end zone untouched to put the game out of reach.

When asked his thoughts on the game, graduate assistant Turner West said, “We have a lot to improve on, but hey, a win is a win in my book.”

This win moves the Eagles to 3-1 on the season, the best since 2018. Ahead lies an in-conference game against undefeated Coastal Carolina.