The Cardinals showed the reset of the Mid-American Conference they could contend for one of the league's post-season bowl bids by starting league play with a 28-25 victory over Buffalo last Saturday night.
A furious start helped the Cardinals race to a 48-21 victory over Army Saturday afternoon at Scheumann Stadium, just a week after the Cadets knocked offBig Ten foe Northwestern.
It made them a four-point favorite, but meant nothing after 30 minutes of dominating play from their opponents in the red and white.
"Looking at our schedule, to have two out of conference wins at this point, you've gotta feel pretty good about that," said coach Pete Lembo of the Cardinals. "I don't know if anybody thought we were capable of that."
Those who saw the first half of Saturday's game against Army realize it would not be wise to underestimate this team this season.
It was a mismatch from the opening kickoff as Ball State drove 80 yards in 12 plays on the opening series of the game. Jahwan Edwards scored the first of his three touchdowns in that first series which seemed to get the large home crowd fired up early.
"When I get the goal-line, I just hurry up and try to get in there so we can get the offense off of the field and get the defense back on there," said Edwards who becomes the first Cardinals since Corey Sykes in 2009 to rush for three touchdowns in a game.
While Army entered the contest averaging 362 yards rushing per contest, the Black Knights could not get their triple-option offense going in the first half. While the Black Knights did tally 101 yards on 21 rushes, the Cardinals had an unheard of 17-4 advantage in first downs in the first half.
"I think the biggest thing was getting them behind early in the sticks, second and long, third and long, they're offense isn't built for stuff like that," said senior safety Sean Baker who picked up his 17th career interception in the second quarter. "I think we just played hard the first half and did what the coaches told us."
The final statistics credit Army with 402 yards rushing, but many of those were after the outcome had already been decided.
Keith Wenning got off to an outstanding start completing 21-27 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns in the opening half. Wenning's 21 yard pass play to Willie Snead on third and goal to go put this game effectively out of reach with 2:38 second left to play in the second quarter.
"Once you get up three scores on these guys, that is when it starts changing the complexion because then they start worrying about how much time they have and how many possessions they are going to get," commented Lembo while referring to the run-oriented offense that Army uses.
Wenning finished with a career-high 324 yards, surpassing his previous high of 226 against Buffalo (9/17/11). His 324 yards passing are the most for a Cardinal since Nate Davis passed for 351 yards against Buffalo (12/5/08).
Lembo commented during his opening statement with the media following the game, "It turned out to be a pretty good month of September."
It has been a spectacular start to the Pete Lembo era in Muncie. However, the first day of October will be a challenge like none the Cardinals have ever experienced. Ball State travels to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the top-ranked team in the country.
"It's going to be a great experience, they're going to have a heckuva crowd. You've just got to go in there with the mind-set to play hard and give it your best shot and whatever happens, happens," said Wenning.
The Cardinals have give it their best shot thus far and if the Cardinals repeat their performance from the first half against Army, anything is possible.