After Western Michigan (3-4, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) missed a field goal on its overtime possession, Edwards scored to seal the come-from-behind victory.
“The running game was critical,” Lembo said. “We said to ourselves it was going to be very difficult to run against the looks we were getting but that we had to be patient and we had to keep pounding it. The teams that have beaten Western Michigan this season have run the football effectively, and the teams that have not run it effectively have lost. I give (offensive coordinator) Rick Skrosky credit for hanging in there and being patient.”
It was the third touchdown of the game for Edwards, who had 23 carries for a total of 138 yards. Cardinal quarterback Keith Wenning ended the day with 265 yards through the air on 27-of-43 passing with one touchdown.
Wenning's scoring toss came on Ball State's final drive of regulation when he found Muncie native Jamill Smith for 11 yards with 50 seconds left to give the Cardinals their first lead since the first quarter at 24-21.
The Broncos crossed midfield on their final drive before Ball State linebacker Tony Martin's first career interception looked like it would seal the win. But the slippery ball on a rainy day slipped out of Martin's hands and Western Michigan recovered to give itself a look at a 52-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.
Broncos kicker Andrew Haldeman put the ball through the uprights as time expired to send the game into OT.
Haldeman's field goal gave Western Michigan its first points against the Ball State defense since the 5:01 mark of the second quarter. At that point, the Broncos led 21-7.
“The defense was building confidence in the second half,” Lembo said. “It was getting to the point where I think they felt really good about going back out there and getting another stop, and obviously they did that time and time again today.”
But Ball State kicker Steven Schott connected on a field goal before halftime and Edwards scored from 23 yards out late in the third quarter to bring the Cardinals within three at 24-21. That was the last score for either team until Wenning's TD pass to Smith in the final minute.
Western Michigan built its first-half lead courtesy of touchdown runs from Antoin Scriven and Brian Fields plus a 45-yard scoring pass from Tyler Van Tubbergen to Josh Schaffer. The Broncos had a chance for more points, but Ball State sophomore cornerback Eric Patterson intercepted Van Tubbergen in the end zone on a ball that was tipped three times, initially by linebacker Travis Freeman.
Offensively for Ball State, sophomore receiver Willie Snead turned in another strong performance with nine catches for 147 yards. It was his third 100-yard receiving game in the past four contests.
“There was no panic,” Lembo said. “There wasn't a lot of frustration. It was pretty even keeled on the sideline.”
The Ball State football team continues Mid-American Conference action Saturday at Central Michigan at 3:30 p.m.First Quarter
Ball State 7, Western Michigan 0
9:54- Jahwan Edwards 11-yard touchdown run. Steven Schott kick good.
13 plays, 78 yards, 5:06
Ball State 7, Western Michigan 7
6:59- Antoin Scriven 1-yard touchdown run. Andrew Haldeman kick good.
8 plays, 78 yards, 2:49
Western Michigan 14, Ball State 7
14:20- Tyler Van Tubbergen 45-yard touchdown pass to Josh Scahffer. Andrew Haldeman kick good.
3 plays, 61 yards, :55
Western Michigan 21, Ball State 7
5:01-Brian Fields 23-yard touchdown run. Andrew Haldeman kick good.
Western Michigan 21, Ball State 10
:50- Steven Schott 34-yard field goal.
11 plays, 51 yards, 4:05
Western Michigan 21, Ball State 17
4:29- Jahwan Edwards 32-yard touchdown run. Andrew Haldeman kick good.
6 plays, 58 yards, 2:15
Ball State 24, Western Michigan 21
:50- Keith Wenning 11-yard touchdown pass to Jamill Smith. Steven Schott kick good.
Ball State 24, Western Michigan 24
:00- Andrew Haldeman 52-yard field goal.
1 play, :.5
Ball State 30, Western Michigan 24
15:00- Jahwan Edwards 15-yard touchdown run.