The Cardinals improved to 5-3 (MAC West 2-1, MAC Overall 3-2) while the Broncos fell to 3-5 (MAC West 2-1, MAC Overall 2-2).
Knipp's interception was his second of the season, and the third for the Cardinals against Western Michigan in the game. It marked the second time this year Ball State has intercepted the ball three times in a game. The last time was last Saturday against Western Kentucky (Oct. 13).
"This is a hard place to play and they are a good football team," said Ball State Head Coach Brady Hoke. "Our kids really care about each other and that is a key to this team. We have character on this team."
In a game that went back and forth from start to finish it was going to take a big play to win the contest, and that is exactly what the Cardinals struggling offense provided with the game winding down in the fourth quarter. With 10:01 to play in the game, Ball State direct snapped to wide receiver Dante Love who threw a lateral pass to quarterback Nate Davis, who completed a 44-yard pass to Louis Johnson to put the Cardinals in the lead 20-16.
But just as the game dictated from the beginning, a big play by the Broncos put them back in front just seconds later. Western Michigan responded less than 30 seconds later on a 50-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead, 23-20.
After a series of punts, Ball State started its final drive with 3:57 to play and nine plays and 79 yards later, Edmonds one-yard touchdown run gave the Cardinals the 27-23 lead with just 1:07 left in the contest. The Broncos came right back and the defense responded. A WMU pass fell incomplete. Brandon Crawford sacked Western Michigan for a loss of two. WMU called a timeout and then completed a 19-yard pass to move the Broncos to their own 37-yard line.
But as the game unfolded the whole day, the Cardinals big play defense responded. With 20 seconds left on the clock Burk deflected a pass to Knipp and the game was over.
Nate Davis completed 25-of-48 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Dante Love led all receivers with 11 catches for 101 yards, while Louis Johnson added three catches for 110 yards and one TD and Darius Hill managed five receptions for 82 yards. Ball State's Chris Miller, the No. 2 ranked punter in the nation, managed 10 punts for 453 yards, including five which forced Western Michigan to start its drives inside its own 20-yard line.
The win kept Ball State alive in the Mid-American Conference West Division race as it enters two non-conference games. Ball State will travel to Illinois Saturday for an 11 a.m. (CT) game, and then play at Bloomington, Ind., against Indiana University Nov. 3, before returning to Muncie for a Nov. 13 nationally televised Tuesday night game vs. Toledo.
Ball State Game Scoring Summary:
Western Michigan took a 16-13 lead with 10:48 to play in the game after mounting a 13-play drive which culminated on a 29-yard field goal for the Broncos.
After trading possessions early in the third quarter, Ball State's Trey Lewis registered his third interception of the season to give the Cardinals the ball in Western Michigan territory. The interception set up a Ball State 22-yard field goal by Jake Hogue to tie the game at 13-13 with 6:25 to go in the third period.
The first half saw Western Michigan dominate early, holding Ball State to only one first down in the first quarter and taking a 10-0 lead with 13:57 to go in the half. But the Cardinals took advantage of some big plays to tie the game at 10-10 with 6:44 to go. After the Broncos took the first half lead, Ball State's Davis completed a series of passes, culminating with a 34-yard touchdown scoring strike to Joe Everett. Hogue connected on a 40-yard field goal with 6:44 to play to tie the score at 10-10.