Football builds confidence at Ball State before Western game

Senior quarterback Shane Morris smiles while talking to his teammates during the football game against the University of Rhode Island on Aug. 31 in Kelly / Shorts Stadium.

Coming off a 30-10 defeat to Toledo on homecoming, Central Michigan football head coach John Bonamego expected better results against Ball State on Saturday. 

He wasn’t disappointed.

CMU dominated Ball State 56-9 at Scheumann Stadium — scoring a season-high eight touchdowns. 

The Chippewas (4-4, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) earned a win they needed to keep pace in the MAC West Division. CMU now has more than a week to prepare for rival Western Michigan on Nov. 1. 

Bonamego said he was “very pleased” with his team’s response this week. 

“Coaches and players did a good job of staying together, staying the course and really continuing to grind,” he said. “It’s tough when you come off a loss like we had a week ago. To be able to bounce back this way is good.” 

The Chippewas tallied 455 total yards on Saturday, including a season-high of 256 rushing yards. Sophomore running back Jonathan Ward had 99 yards rushing on 13 carries and two touchdowns. 

Graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris completed 16-of-21 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns. 

Morris found senior wide receiver Corey Willis for three touchdowns against Ball State. Willis, after missing three games with a broken hand, rebounded with five catches for 98 yards.

Morris said having a balanced attack allowed the offense to pick apart Ball State’s defense. 

“It changes the complete outlook of the game,” he said. “We’re not throwing the ball 45-to-50 times a game and that’s what the offense is built to do and we’ve been successful in doing that.” 

CMU led 28-6 after halftime but didn’t take its foot off the gas after the break — outscoring BSU 31-3 in the second half. 

Senior defensive end Joe Ostman was in the Cardinals’ backfield throughout the game. He registered a game-high four sacks. Ostman now leads the country with 10 sacks on the season. 

Ostman said the defense stayed with its game plan because CMU had the lead. 

“Just playing with the lead kind of forces (the Cardinals) to throw. It puts their back against the wall,” he said. “I think the defensive line, the defense as a whole, played very hard today. We knew that if we kept rushing hard we’d get after them and that’s what happened.

“We know that Western’s next. Western’s a huge game and it goes without being said.” 

Kickoff against the Broncos is at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo. The game will be televised on ESPN2.