Late interception vaults Army past Ball State

WEST POINT-- In contast to last week's game with Duke, Army used a late interception to pick up their second victory. The Black Knight's Donovan Travis intercepted a Kelly Page pass and then returned it 18 yards for a touchdown to boost his team to a 24-17 win over the Ball State Cardinals (0-3).

Early on, it looked like it would be an easy victory for the Black Knights. On their first possession Army drove 80 yards in just 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The drive culminated when plebe quarterback Trent Steelman ran it in from 1-yard out to put the Cadets on top.

Later in the first quarter the Cardinals took advantage of a fumble by Army's Alfred McDaniel to take the ball at the Army 15-yard-line. It took just two plays for BSU to knot the score at 7. Quarterback Kelly Page ran it in from 15-yards to score the Cardinals' touchdown.

Army linebacker Andrew Rodriquez intercepted a Page pass and returned it to the Ball State 32-yard-line to put Army in position their second score of the day. Alex Carlton's 45-yard field goal put the Cadets up, 10-7, early in the second quarter.

On the ensuing Ball State possession the Cardinals drove 58 yards in 14 plays before their drive stalled. However, Ian McGarvey's 30-yard field goal tied the score at 10 with 7:15 remaining in the half.

Another Army interception, this time by Tanner Justice, gave the Cadets possession near mid field. The Cadets promptly drove 53-yards in just 7 plays before Steelman found Ali Villanueva for a 24-yard scoring pass. The Black Kights would take a 17-10 lead to the locker room.

Ball State's defense frustrated Army throughout the second half and held them to only 207 yards rushing for the game. The Cadets were forced to punt on every drive in the final stanza. Army punter Jonathan Bulls performed well for the Black Knights and averaged 43-yards a punt on the day including a 65-yarder late in the third quarter.

Early in the third quarter Ball State quieted the Michie Stadium crowd with a score. The visitors tied the score at 17 on a 34 yard pass from Page to Torieal Gibson with a 7 play, 66 yard drive. Gibson caught 5 passes for 107 yards during the game.

While Army's offense had problems finding success in the second half, their defense kept up the heat on the Cardinals. After a Bulls punt had backed up the Cardinals on their own 8-yard-line, on the first play of their drive Page threw his third interception of the day (one other interception was thrown by BSU substitute quarterback Tanner Justice). Army's Travis then sprinted straight for the end zone to give the Black Knights a 24-17 lead.

After the game Army head coach Rich Ellerson complimented Ball State and credited Army's special teams with making the plays needed to pick up the victory, "Today was a hard-fought win. I give Ball State a lot of credit. They battled throughout and played really well in all phases of the game. We were fortunate to be successful. If not for some plays in the kicking game and on special teams, we would have been in some trouble."

Next up for Army (2-1) is a trip to Iowa State this coming Saturday at 7 p.m. Ball State plays at Auburn.

NOTES

Kingley Ehie was Army's leading rusher with 67 yards on 15 carries.

In the passing department Steelman finished 3 of 7 for 58 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked once and had 39 yards rushing.

This is the first time Army has been 2-1 since 1996.

The Army Athletic Association officially retired the uniform number (61) of former Outland Trophy winner Joe Steffy on Saturday.

Junior linebacker Stephen Anderson had a career-high 15 tackles.

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