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A day of missed opportunities for Ball State in loss

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For more on college football, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.

Cardinals squander lead in final minutes

Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 1:49 am

The Ball State football team (3-3, 1-2 MAC) lost a 35-23 decision to Northern Illinois (5-1, 2-0 MAC) Saturday afternoon at Scheumann Stadium.

Ball State junior quarterback Keith Wenning threw for 434 yards, marking his second straight 400-yard passing game. He also set school records for pass attempts (71) and completions (42).

Wenning moved into third place on Ball State's all-time list for total offensive yards with 6,168 in his career and jumped into a tie for second place in the school record book for career touchdown passes with 44.

Saturday's game mimicked Ball State's contest at Northern Illinois last season when the Cardinals led late into the game before the Huskies overcame them down the stretch. The Cardinals led Saturday by a 23-14 score midway through the third quarter after scoring 20 unanswered points, but Northern Illinois scored the game's final 21 points.

A 71-yard touchdown run by NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch made it a two-score game with 3:03 to play. The Cardinals moved the ball inside the Huskies' 10-yard line on their final drive before turning it over on downs.

After starting the game in a 14-3 hole, Ball State battled back with a Wenning touchdown pass to Willie Snead and two more Steven Schott field goals to grab a 16-14 halftime lead. The final score of the half was set up by Ball State's Eric Patterson forcing a fumble on a kickoff and teammate Brandon Kish recovering it.

Wenning then scored on a QB sneak early in the third quarter to extend the Cardinals' lead to 23-14.

But Lynch brought Northern Illinois back with his arm and his legs. The Huskies QB ran for 207 yards and threw for 195 in the game. He hit Akeem Daniels for the go-ahead score with 4:58 to play and then escaped for his long TD run less than two minutes later.

Lynch finished with three rushing touchdowns and threw for one more as Northern Illinois retained the Bronze Stalk trophy in the rivalry game between the teams.