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Ball State clips Central Michigan to remain perfect

Nov 20, 2008 - 5:37 AM MT. PLEASANT, Michigan (Ticker) -- Nate Davis threw four touchdown passes as 16th-ranked Ball State outlasted Central Michigan, 31-24, in a Mid-American Conference thriller on Wednesday.

With the victory, the Cardinals (10-0, 7-0 MAC West) need a win over Western Michigan next week to clinch the MAC West and an undefeated regular season.

Davis hit Briggs OrHsbon with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter to give Ball State the final advantage.

"I knew that our guys were ready for this," Davis said.

Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour had a huge game, going 30-of-44 for 342 yards passing and rushing for 76 yards on 24 carries, but it wasn't enough to prevent the two-time defending conference champions from falling.

LeFevour apparently was picked off by Alex Knipp to end the Chippewas' last hope. A review overturned the call and LeFevour moved the ball into Ball State's territory before being picked off by Sean Baker with 27 seconds left.

"They made a few more plays than we did," Central Michigan coach Butch Jones said. "Some of it might have been us, but a lot of it was probably them."

MiQuale Lewis had 28 carries for 177 yards for Ball State. Davis was 12-of-22 passing for 175 yards.

"The biggest thing was to control the line of scrimmage," Davis said. "And that is what we did."

The Chippewas (8-3, 6-1) had snapped a 17-17 tie early in the fourth quarter when LeFevour hit Kito Poblah with a 38-yard touchdown pass. Poblah came back to the ball and made the easy catch in the end zone.

On the touchdown, however, Poblah was flagged for excessive celebration, forcing Central Michigan to kick off from its own 15.

That proved costly as Ball State returned the kick to its 45. Four plays later, Davis hit Louis Johnson with a pass and the wideout took advantage of some shoddy tackling to complete a 45-yard touchdown play that tied the game at 24-24, setting the stage for Ball State's game-winning drive.

The first half was even at 10-10 on the scoreboard and almost deadlocked in total offense as Central Michigan had a 178-176 advantage.

Ball State jumped on the scoreboard first when Davis connected with Johnson on a 20-yard scoring play.

The Chippewas bounced back with 10 straight points. First, LeFevour found Joe Bockheim from 24 yards out to tie the game.

Andrew Aguila then hit a 31-yard field goal to break the deadlock.

The Cardinals came back to tie the game on Ian McGarvey's 21-yard field goal with less than a minute left until halftime.

The teams continued their back-and-forth battle in the second half.

Central Michigan took the kickoff and marched 63 yards with Ontario Sneed carrying the ball the final six to make it 17-10.

Undaunted, Davis led Ball State 88 yards, completing the march with an 18-yard TD strike to Daniel Ifft to tie the game at 17 midway through the third quarter.