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Pete Lembo

Ball State football coach Pete Lembo talks after the Cardinals beat Colgate 30-10 in the season opener Saturday in Muncie. Video by Greg Jones, The Journal Gazette.

Players change, but Cards keep winning

– For the most part, it was a typical season opener for the Ball State football team – including getting the win.

The Cardinals won their fifth straight opening-game, a 30-10 decision over Colgate on Saturday at Scheumann Stadium.

“It was a good way to start the season,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. “It was a good workmanlike win.”

The Cardinals are coming off a 10-3 record last year but are missing several key ingredients from that team, including quarterback Keith Wenning, receiver Willie Snead and defensive tackle Jonathon Newsome.

“Overall, it was a good, solid day and a lot of guys played a lot more football than they have in the past,” Lembo said. “Hopefully that was a good learning experience for them.”

Ball State improved to 4-0 in openers under Lembo. The Cardinals have now won 17 of their last 19 regular-season games.

Against Colgate, the offense was balanced with running backs Horactio Banks and Jahwan Edwards each rushing for more than 100 yards and quarterback Ozzie Mann throwing two touchdowns in his first career start.

It was the 20th time two backs went over 100 yards for the Cardinals, and the first time since the same tandem did it in against Ohio on Nov. 14, 2012. Banks ran for 134 yards, while Edwards finished with 109 yards and a touchdown.

“I am real pleased with how we ran the ball,” Lembo said. “That’s how we want to be. We want to be able to hand the ball off to those guys and keep the chains moving.”

Ball State had 311 rushing yards and finished with 514 yards of total offense.

Mann completed 20 of 32 passes for 203 yards and the two scores.

“It was fun to get out there and compete with the guys,” Mann said. “Obviously it’s nice to get the first game under our the belt. It’s a win, but we have to keep getting better every day.”

He also had an interception in the end zone that was a simultaneous catch and ruled a pick that was upheld by review.

The score would have put Ball State up 20-0 but instead Colgate drove down the field and narrowed the deficit to 13-7. But Mann hit Aaron Hepp for a score just before halftime to go up 20-7.

Receiver KeVonn Mabon had a career high 11 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Mabon was injured three games into last season and had been out of action ever since.

“I felt like the jitters were gone when he started spring ball and going through camp all summer,” Mabon said of returning to the field. “Coming out here I felt normal, and that I was used to it.”

On defense, the Cardinals gave up only nine first downs, the fewest since 2000.

“It’s all about everybody doing their role and playing disciplined football,” linebacker Ben Ingle said about the defense. “I don’t think we had too many missed tackles at all, and you want to minimize that as much as possible.”

gjones@jg.net

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