Western Michigan suffered its first loss to Ball State since the 1996 season with a 35-31 setback in the 2001 season finale. WMU, which had won four straight meetings prior to the loss, still owns an 18-10-0 lead in the all-time series.
Nov. 24, 2001 * Kalamazoo, Mich.
Western Michigan saw a nine-game home winning streak snapped with a 35-31 loss to Ball State. The victory gave Ball State a share of the MAC West Division crown.
WMU went up 31-28 with under six minutes left in the fourth quarter on Jon Drach's 22-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Thomas.
Ball State answered their following possession, driving 65 yards on four plays in 1:28 for the game winning drive. Marcus Merriweather scored from five yards out to seal the victory. Merriweather finished with a game-high 79 yards rushing, setting a BSU season record in the process.
Drach completed 19-of-43 passes for a career-high 274 yards and four touchdowns. Josh Bush led all receivers with eight receptions for 96 yards, moving into fourth place in WMU career receiving. Running back Benny Clark closed his career with 72 yards rushing on 21 attempts.
On the defense, Bryan Lape and Brandon Brown made nine tackles each.
REED'S CAREER DAY
Philip Reed's 226-yard performance against Northern Illinois was notable for many reasons. Not only was it the best rushing effort in 23 seasons (dating to Craig Morrow's 238-yard day in 1980), but also equaled the seventh-best rushing game total in school history (tying Jerome Persell's mark set against Miami in 1978). Reed averaged 10.2 yards per carry against the second-best run defense in the MAC, turning in the fourth-best rushing game in the MAC this season - 17th-highest in the NCAA. Reed's performance marked WMU's first 200-plus yard rushing game since Robert Sanford ran for 203 yards against Marshall on Oct. 5, 2000.
BABIN MAKING P.O.Y. BID
Defensive end Jason Babin continues to make a strong case for MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. The 6-4, 265-pound junior recorded a pair of sacks against Northern Illinois, raising his MAC-leading total on the season to 13. Babin also paces the MAC with 17 tackles for loss. Babin will find out where he ranks nationally in sacks when the NCAA releases its next quarterly report of defensive statistics on Nov. 4. For now, one thing is known for sure: Babin's 13 sacks are equal to or greater than totals from six MAC schools: BG-13, OU-12, KSU-10, BSU-7, EMU-6, UA-5.
Western Michigan has dropped four games this season by a margin of four or fewer points.
Philip Reed needs 201 yards over the next four games to reach 1,000 for the season * in the latest NCAA statistical rankings, Kendrick Mosley stands fourth in punt returns (17.5 avg.), while the Broncos rate 14th in kickoff returns (23.5), 16th in punt returns (14.5) and 20th in passing offense (282.1) * WS Jason Feldpausch has taken over the MAC lead for forced fumbles (4). Bryan Lape led the MAC last season with a school-record tying six forced fumbles (he has three this year) * Feldpausch has reached double digits in tackles the last three games * redshirt freshman TE Tony Scheffler hauled in his first career touchdown reception, an 18-yard pass from Chad Munson, on Saturday afternoon. The catch was just Scheffler's third as a collegian * redshirt freshman OT Walter Stith, a converted 6-8 tight end, made his collegiate debut against NIU * the Broncos were without three starters Saturday due to injuries: LB Jason Malloy, FS Carlos Smith and LT Kyle Ras * as a result of being sidelined last week, Smith has been joined by SS Jermaine Foreste and C Jake Gasaway for top honors in games played (43) among active Broncos * K Anthony Apa has worked his way up the MAC rankings, taking over the top spot in PAT percentage with a 100 percent conversion rate (18-for-18) * Western Michigan returns to Waldo Stadium next Saturday (Nov. 9) to host Eastern Michigan on Salute to Veterans Day * WMU's season-ending awards banquet will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.
QUOTING DARNELL ON THE NIU GAME:
"We had some penalties at some critical times. We had some times today when we needed every inch and penalties cost us. We were never able to loosen their defense in the second half. We were close a couple of times, but could never break through."
ON STATUS OF TEAM:
"We are a very good football team, we just need to learn how to play better. We have a chance to win some games down the stretch if we can improve."
SCOUTING BALL STATE
Ball State fell to No. 22 Bowling Green, 38-20, on the road Saturday (Oct. 26). The Cardinals have a veteran lineup, with 16 upperclassmen (including 10 seniors) listed on their top 22-man unit. RB Marcus Merriweather rushed for 139 yards against BGSU and is 36 yards shy of a 1,000 yards as the fourth-leading runner in the MAC. Merriweather is a capable receiver out of the backfield with 18 receptions, including two touchdowns. Coach Bill Lynch has a pair of senior signal callers to choose from in Andy Roesch and Talmadge Hill. Roesch, who has five starts, threw 41 times against BGSU, completing 23 passes for 205 yards. The Cardinals sport a balanced offense, having rushed the ball 325 times against 248 pass attempts while ranking second in MAC possession time (32:13). Junior LB Lorenzo Scott owns a team-best eight TFLs and is second in total tackles with 76 stops, one behind junior LB Justin Beriault.