The game clock read six seconds. The score read 41-38 in favor of Kent State.
Ball State redshirt quarterback Drew Plitt bounced around the pocket, looking for an open receiver downfield. His linemen held off the Flashes’ three-man rush just long enough for him to dump a pass to graduate student running back Walter Fletcher.
The game clock read zero. It was do or die time for the Cardinals.
Fletcher took it 26 yards to Kent State’s 31-yard line before pitching the ball back to junior receiver Justin Hall. Hall avoided a couple defenders before throwing it back in the direction of Plitt and a herd of linemen.
The ball hit the ground, and Kent State (5-6, 4-3 MAC) fell on it, ending the game and erasing Ball State’s (4-7, 3-4 MAC) chances of going to a bowl game.
Coming into Saturday, it was do or die for both teams, each with a record of 4-6 needing to win their last two games to earn bowl eligibility. They both played as if everything were on the line too, as neither reached a lead of more than 10 points — the only time coming early in the second quarter.
With the back-and-forth nature of the game, it seemed as though it was going to come down to whoever had the ball last. It did, but with a little twist. Ball State had the ball last, but with only 18 seconds to work with, it was hoping for a miracle.
The Cardinals found success the same way they have all throughout conference play: running the football.
Ball State recorded 330 yards on the ground Saturday — the sixth time it has rushed for at least 230 yards against a Mid-American Conference opponent and the second time it has topped 300 yards.
Individually, the dynamic duo of junior running back Caleb Huntley and Fletcher were at it again. Huntley ran for a career-high 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fletcher also scored twice while tacking on 90 yards on the ground as well as a team-high 74 receiving yards.
Defensively, the Cardinals struggled to stop any aspect of the Flashes’ offense. Three different Kent State rushers reached 80 yards or more, and two receivers eclipsed 150 yards.
Ball State will have its senior night Friday, Nov. 29 against Miami (Ohio) to end the season. A win would give Neu his best record at the helm of the program.
Contact Zach Piatt with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.