Late in the second quarter of its football game at North Texas on Saturday, the Ball State football squad believed that its first business trip of the season was going very smoothly.
The Cardinals had built up a 27-9 lead when senior quarterback Keith Wenning fired a scoring pass to junior wide receiver Willie Snead and it appeared that they would cruise to their third victory in as many games. That's where it all took a turn south.
Ball State committed five turnovers en route to being outscored 25-0 over the final two-plus quarters and lost 34-27.
The defeat snapped Ball State's (2-1) string of eight consecutive regular season wins, despite Wenning throwing for for more than 300 yards for the third straight game.
North Texas (2-1) found the end zone before the end of the first half on a 25-yard pass from Derek Thompson to Brelan Chancellor, then went on to score 25 unanswered points the rest of the way.
The Mean Green took its first lead on a 26-yard touchdown run from Thompson at the 9:47 mark in the final stanza, and that turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
Ball State racked up 366 yards of offense in the first half, including a 77-yard touchdown run from Horactio Banks, but the Cardinals were held to 130 yards after the break. The Cardinals managed to hold the halftime lead despite three lost fumbles and an interception in the opening half.
Reggie Peagram of North Texas ran for a 32-yard score on the opening drive of the second half, and the Mean Green climbed within 27-24 with a two-point conversion. North Texas then tied the game on a Zach Paul field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Cardinals were led by Jeffrey Garrett, who totaled eight tackles. He caused a fumble at the end of the first quarter that led to the Cardinals’ third score of the game, as Brian Jones scooped it up and ran three yards into the end zone for his first career score.
Offensively, Wenning threw for 333 yards and two scores. He tossed a pair of interceptions, the first of which ended a streak of 150 passes without a pick dating back to last season.
Jamill Smith led the Cardinals in receiving with 115 yards, while Banks ran for a career-high 141 yards.
Ball State had the ball twice after North Texas took the lead, but the Cardinals punted after picking up one first down on the first of those drives, and North Texas sealed the game with an interception on the second.
Ball State will travel to Eastern Michigan on Saturday for its first Mid-American Conference contest of the season.
NORTH TEXAS 34, BALL STATE 27
Ball State 6, North Texas 0
11:48- Keith Wenning 2-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead. Scott Secor pass no good.
9 plays, 75 yards, 3:26
Ball State 6, North Texas 3
8:12 – Zach Paul 48-yard field goal.
9 plays, 34 yards, 3:36
Ball State 13, North Texas 3
5:28 – Horactio Banks 77-yard touchdown run. Scott Secor kick good.
4 plays, 91 yards, :52
Ball State 20, North Texas 3
:20 – Brian Jones 3-yard touchdown fumble recovery run. Scott Secor kick good.
Ball State 20, North Texas 6
11:04 – Zach Paul 22-yard field goal.
11 plays, 70 yards, 4:16
Ball State 20, North Texas 9
6:23- Zach Paul 47-yard field goal.
7 plays, 27 yards, 3:08
Ball State 27, North Texas 9
3:26- Keith Wenning 27-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead. Scott Secor kick good.
10 plays, 75 yards, 2:57
Ball State 27, North Texas 16
1:50 – Derek Thompson 25-yard touchdown pass to Brelan Chancellor. Zach Paul kick good.
4 plays, 71 yards, 1:36
Ball State 27, North Texas 24
12:37 – Reggie Pegram 32-yard touchdown run. Derek Thompson 3-yard two- point conversion to Drew Miller complete.
7 plays, 74 yards, 2:22
Ball State 27, North Texas 27
14:51- Zach Paul 19-yard field goal.
15 plays, 66 yards, 5:32
North Texas 34, Ball State 27
9:47 – Derek Thompson 26-yard touchdown run. Zach Paul kick good.
9 plays, 56 yards, 3:58