It was a game that the Red Wolves took control of late in the first half with a game-scoring drive and had the upper hand in most of the second half except for a 1 minute period in the closing moments.
A-State (8-5) lost its lead when Jahwan Edwards scored from the 1 with 1:33 left.
With 32 seconds left Freddi Knighten hit Allen Muse with a 13-yard scoring pass and Brian David kicked the extra point for a 23-20 lead.
Still it took Ryan Carrethers' block of a field goal on the game's final play to save the night and send the thousands of Red Wolves fan here and back home into euphoria.
The Red Wolves finished with 331 yards offense while Ball State had 363 but ran 18 more plays than A-State. Ball State (10-3) also had the time of possession advantage 33:24 to 26:26.
The victory was the school's second straight GoDaddy victory and their third consecutive win on this turf. They defeated South Alabama 17-16 in November.
The difference: The Red Wolves were able to overcome a couple of missed opportunities, a missed field goal and an interception in the end zone.
But the credit has to go to special team plays. While the blocked field goal was the exclamation point, the final drive started with a 26-yard kickoff return by R.J. Fleming who got the Red Wolves near midfield. They also snuffed out a fake punt attempt with Sirgregory Thornton and Brock Barnhill making the tackle on the play.
Three times ASU punted the Cardinals inside the 10.
Ultimate Makeover: QB Adam Kennedy reinjured his knee late in the second quarter and the Red Wolves opted to so with sophomore Fredi Knighten the rest of the way.
Knighten who almost pulled of the victory at Western Kentucky after Kennedy was injured was able to get the W this time about and also was named game's most valuable player. Knighten finished with 97 yards rushing and completed 15 of 20 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.
Award winners: Knighten was the game MVP and the Red Wolves also dominated the other awards. Brian Davis was special teams player, J.D. McKissic the top offensive player and Qushaun Lee the top defensive player.
Defensive numbers: From the tackle chart, Lee led with 15, Chris Stone and Xavier Woodson 10 each and Carrethers 6. Woodson, a freshman, also had two pass break ups. Lee also had an interception. Rocky Hayes and Kyle Coleman had the only QB sacks.
The crowd: The announced attendance was announced at 36,119.
Running strong: The Red Wolves finished with 202 yards rushing. Knighten had 97, Michael Gordon 37 and Fleming 27.
Bama bowls: There were times when the Red Wolves had eight players from Alabama on defense – Amos Draper, Chris Stone, Dexter Blackmon, Q Lee, Woodson, Hayes, Sterling Young and Chris Humes.
Final word: "I just want to say that it takes special, special young men to do what they have done," said John Thompson. And to do what they did tonight is the kind of people that they are. They are fighters.
Up next: The Red Wolves return home on Saturday, Aug. 31 to play the season opener. Indications are Jackson State will be the opponent.
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