Kent State traveled to Muncie, Ind., on Friday needing a win over Ball State to give the Golden Flashes a winning season for the first time since 2001 and just the 11th time in school history and to keep alive the chances of earning an at-large bid to a postseason bowl game.
Ball State (5-7, 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference) dashed both of those hopes by scoring the first 27 points of the game and limiting the Golden Flashes (6-6, 5-3) to just 275 total yards of offense in a 30-6 victory.
"I thought our front seven really played aggressive on defense," Ball State head coach Brady Hoke said. "The back guys, they just had to make sure nothing got behind them. (Offensively) we started off a little slow, but I think we got in a rhythm and did a nice job."
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Both teams struggled early to generate much of an offense, but the Cardinals drove 48 yards in six plays for a 3-0 lead on a 19-yard field goal by Brian Jackson with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Andre Kirkland intercepted a Nate Davis pass in the Kent State end zone to thwart another Ball State scoring attempt, but the Golden Flashes quickly gave the ball back to the Cardinals when Julian Edelman was intercepted by Wendell Brown at the Kent State 37-yard line. Four plays later Larry Bostic scored on a 4-yard run to give Ball State a 10-lead.
Davis later hit Terry Moss for a 30-yard score and Bostic added a 7-yard run to give Ball State a 24-0 lead at the half.
Jackson added a 20-yard field goal on Ball State's first possession of the second half to increase the Cardinals' lead to 27-0 before Edelman connected with Marcus Hill for a 9-yard touchdown with 14:28 remaining in the game. The extra point was blocked and Ball State led 27-6. Ball State closed out the scoring with a 22-yard Jackson field goal with 10:14 remaining in the game.
Kent State averaged 165.2 yards on the ground per game entering the afternoon showdown with Ball State. With the exception of a few scrambles by Edelman, the Golden Flashes were stuffed for four quarters. Kent State's leading rusher Eugene Jarvis carried 10 times for –4 yards.
The victory pushes Ball State's advantage in the series to 18-5 and the Cardinals have now won 13 of the last 14 games between the two MAC foes.
After entering their Oct. 21 bye week with a 5-2 record, the Golden Flashes lost four of their final five games.