With the win, Central Michigan (4-3 overall, 4-0 MAC West) stays unbeaten and atop the Mid-American Conference West Division standings.
"It was a touch, hard fought game," CMU head coach Brian Kelly said. "Our defense played very well."
The Chippewas opened the scoring in the first quarter when CMU quarterback Dan LeFevour scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day.
LeFevour scampered 15 yards to cap an 8-play, 62-yard drive that consumed 3:34. The Chippewas tried a fake on the point after touchdown which failed.
The CMU defense made that 6-0 lead hold up until the second half.
The Chippewa defense forced five Cardinal turnovers and made a goal line stand in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for CMU.
Ball State (2-5 overall, 2-2 MAC West) entered the game averaging a MAC leading 32.7 points per game and had not been held to less than 23 points in a game this season.
LeFevour increased CMU's lead to 12-0 on a 3-yard run in the third quarter. The 13-play, 76-yard drive took 5:37. The Chippewas went for two, but LeFevour's pass failed and the lead remained 12-0. On the drive, LeFevour was 6-for-6 passing for 66 yards and ran for 10 yards, accounting for all 76 yards on the third-quarter march.
The Cardinals answered back with a tocuhdown of their own. With two minutes ramining in the third quarter, fullback Brad Salyer scored on a 1-yard plunged, capping a 13-play, 69-yard drive that took 5:13 and made the score 12-7.
Disaster struck for the Cardinals in the fourth quarter when B.J. Hill fumbled a punt that was recovered by CMU cornerback Josh Gordy at the BSU 7-yard line.
Two plays later, CMU true freshman running back Marcel Archer scored from a yard out to extend the CMU lead to 18-7 with 13:20 remaining. The point after kick failed though and the Chippewa lead remained 18-7.
The Cardinals took the ensuing kickoff and drove down to the CMU 1-yard line but failed to score as the Chippewas made a great goal-line stand, stopping BSU on 4th and goal from the 1-foot line.
"It was a huge play," CMU defensive tackle Steve Friend said of the fourth down stop. "We (defensive line) just got down and grubbed and let the linebackers come up and make the play."
"We battle and we fight and that was the turning point of the game," Kellys said. "It's all about finding ways to win football games on a tough MAC schedule."
LeFevour finished 18-of-30 for 171 yards passing with an interception. He also ran 18 times for a game-high 75 yards.
Ball State true freshman quarterback Nate Davis was 23-of-29 through the air for 160 yards. Dante Love caught seven passes for 33 yards and Larry Bostic six for 39 yards.
The Chippewas put their perfect MAC record on the line Thursday night when they host Bowling Green State University at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ESPNU will televise the contest.
"What's important is we came out of the Ball State game with no injuries," Kelly said. "We have a chance to go to 5-0 in the MAC then have 16 days rest before our next game."
Chippewas Defeat Ball State, 18-7
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