MUNCIE, Ind. – Willie Snead caught a one-handed, 19-yard touchdown pass with a minute left to boost Ball State to a 31-27 victory over South Florida Saturday.
The Cardinals clinched the victory over a Big East team with defensive back Eric Patterson’s interception with 11 seconds left.
Ball State (3-1) beat its second straight major conference opponent. Last week it edged the Big Ten’s Indiana 41-39 on a last-second field goal.
Snead caught 11 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Keith Wenning was 24-for-36 for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
South Florida (2-2) lost its second straight game. It was led by quarterback B.J. Daniels who threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 75 yards.
A fierce north wind added an extra challenge to the passing games. South Florida adjusted on its first drive -- which went into the wind -- with 10 straight running plays. The Bulls drove inside the Ball State 15-yard line before two holding penalties forced them to pass. It was incomplete and they settled for Maikon Bonani’s 42-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Ball State countered with Steven Schott’s 39-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3.
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning’s sharp passing, including a 22-yard toss to Snead, set up Jahwan Edwards’3-yard TD run to give Ball State a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
Daniels tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Lindsey Lamar, but extra point was blocked. Ball State led 10-9.
The Cardinals’ strong second-half-opening drive took up more than six minutes while overcoming a pair of holding penalties. They went 75 yards in 15 plays, the last one coming on a quarterback sneak for a touchdown and a 17-9 lead.
South Florida responded by driving into the red zone before settling for Bonani’s 27-yard field goal to make it 17-12.
Jamill Smith took charge with a long kickoff return to midfield and a couple of catches, including a 5-yard touchdown reception to make it 24-12 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Daniels 15-yard touchdown pass cut Ball State’s lead to 24-19 at the end of the third quarter.
Daniels hit huge third-and-long passes for 21 and 18 yards to keep South Florida’s 99-yard drive alive. His 29-yard touchdown pass to Lindsey Lamar, plus a 2-point conversion, made it 27-24 with 4:12 left.
Wenning went to work with a series of clutch passes, the last the 19-yard TD toss to Snead with 1:02 left to give Ball State a 31-27 lead.
Patterson clinched it with his interception.