By Craig Fields
The hurry up offense was in full effect as the Ball State Cardinals marched down the field on their first offensive possession of the game for a nine play 75 yard touchdown scoring drive. This marks the third straight game for the North Texas Mean Green that they have given up opening drive touchdowns. And just like the first game of the season when Idaho State scored on their first drive, the special teams had trouble getting the extra point off.
The Mean Green would respond offensively by going on a nine play drive on their own ending with the first field goal of the season by kicker Zach Paul. On the ensuing drive by the Cardinals senior Linebacker Marcus Trice induced a fumble that sophomore DB Kenny Buyers recovered.
Nerves were pretty evident early as both teams hadn’t quite settled down for this nationally televised sporting event. However the ground game of the Cardinals was the story early on as RB Horatio Banks would run for over 100 yards in the first quarter including a 77-yard rushing touchdown that would put the Cards up 13-3. QB Keith Wenning was not the threat that you would expect from a quarterback who is 10th in the nation in passing yards a game at 332.
Overall the first half of the game was entertaining to say the least. The Mean Green defense caused four turnovers. However going through the tunnel they trailed 27-16. Laramie had a monster first half. He had an interception, and forced fumble, to go along with three tackles. The Cardinals caused a turnover of their own and ran it back for a touchdown. It looked as if the Ball State Cardinals just might take it.
However the Mean Green came out after halftime, a different team. On their first possession they went 74 yards in 2:16 and scored a touchdown on freshman Reggie Pegram’s 32-yard touchdown scamper. They wouldn’t settle for an extra point as they would attempt the 2-point conversion and convert it to get to close the gap to 24-27.
After that score however the third quarter proved to be a defensive battle with the Mean Green and Cardinals defenses stepping up and shutting down the respective offenses. To start the fourth quarter the Mean Green kicked and made a field goal to tie the game at 27 all. You could hear all 14,000+ in attendance cheering and screaming their heads off urging their guys to pull out this victory.
Derek Thompson, seemingly heard the cries of the fans and responded in kind as the North Texas quarterback was flushed from the pocket and scampered for a 26-yard touchdown. It was a run that would have made Cam Newton proud as the quarterback celebrated with the patented Superman motion. Head Coach Dan McCarney said, “I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen him run, in game or in practice, for a touchdown. It was a great play on his part.”
All in all it was a game that was just about as exciting as college football gets. The underdog scored 25 straight points that led to the win in dramatic fashion.