MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Ball State found a way to win just in time for the second week in a row.
Cardinals quarterback Keith Wenning connected with Willie Snead for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:02 left as Ball State rallied to beat South Florida 31-27 on Saturday.
“We were talking about needing to score a touchdown,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said.
Wenning, who was 24 of 36 for 244 yards passing with two touchdowns, and also ran for a score, knew the Cardinals didn’t have many more opportunities.
“I told them it was do or die,” Wenning said. “It was the last opportunity to score.”
Snead, who finished with 11 catches for 135 yards, caught the winner in the back corner of the end zone for the Cardinals (3-1).
“It was a high-pressure drive,” Lembo said. “We were talking a lot about staying in balance because we had plenty of time and we had (one) timeout.”
The Cardinals also left some time for the Bulls (2-2). B.J. Daniels, who had three touchdown passes and led South Florida with 75 rushing yards, drove his team from its 13-yard line to the Ball State 28.
But Ball State’s Eric Patterson intercepted Daniels’ pass at the 10-yard line as time expired.
Jahwan Edwards ran 98 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown for the Cardinals, who won their second straight game after being down late. Ball State beat Indiana, 41-39, on a field goal as time expired last week.
After trailing much of the way, South Florida turned a 24-12 deficit into a three-point lead in the fourth quarter. Daniels, who finished with 312 yards passing, threw a 15-yard TD pass to Andre Davis in the final minute of the third quarter, then connected with Lindsey Lamar on a 29-yard touchdown — the second TD for Lamar in the game. Demetris Murray’s 2-point conversion run put the Bulls in front 27-24 with 4:12 to go.
Wenning, who was not intercepted in the game, earlier found Jamill Smith in the corner of the end zone to make it 24-12.
South Florida beat Chattanooga and Nevada before losing to Rutgers a week ago. The Bulls host No. 4 Florida State next week.
After the teams traded field goals early, Edwards’ 3-yard TD midway through the second quarter put the Cardinals up 10-3. South Florida scored on Daniels’ 15-yard pass to Lamar, but Ball State blocked the extra point and led 10-9 at halftime.
“We talk about controlling what we can control and worrying about ourselves and not getting caught up in the opponent,” Lembo said. “We’ve been trying to focus on that a lot, especially considering the schedule we’ve played last year and this year.”
Ball State’s loss came to No. 10 Clemson two weeks ago. The Cardinals, who beat Mid-American Conference rival Eastern Michigan in their opener, resume MAC play next week when they travel to Kent State.
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