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Ball State improves to 3-1 with 31-27 victory over South Florida

The Ball State football team (3-1) knocked off Big East foe South Florida (2-2) with a 31-27 victory Saturday night at Scheumann Stadium, marking its second consecutive victory over a team from a BCS automatic qualifying conference.

South Florida scored a touchdown with 4:12 left in the game and completed the two-point conversion to take a 27-24 lead. But Cardinals junior quarterback Keith Wenning then orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard drive and put Ball State back on top with a 19-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Willie Snead.

The Bulls moved the ball into Ball State territory in the closing seconds on their final possession, but Cardinals cornerback Eric Patterson intercepted a B.J. Daniels pass on the final play to seal the win over his hometown team from Tampa, Fla.

Ball State's offense managed 413 yards on the day. Snead had a career-high 11 receptions for 135 yards and the game-winning score, while Wenning threw for 244 yards (24-of-36 passing) and two touchdowns.

The Cardinals opened the second half off with a Wenning touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak that gave Ball State a 17-9 advantage. It was the sixth rushing touchdown of his career and first of the season.

USF kicked a field goal on its next possession, but Wenning then found senior wide receiver Jamill Smith for a five-yard touchdown pass that made it a 24-12 contest with 3:14 remaining in the third quarter.

USF closed the quarter with a touchdown pass from Daniels to Andre Davis to cut Ball State's lead to 24-19. After the Cardinals punted on their first possession of the fourth quarter, USF drove 99 yards and took its first lead since the first quarter at 27-24 after another Daniels touchdown pass and a two-point conversion.

Wenning then drove the Cardinals down the field for the game-winning score in the closing minutes for the second week in a row. The Cardinals defeated Indiana last week on a last-second field goal that followed another dramatic catch by Snead.

Ball State held a 10-9 halftime lead, scoring in the first half on a Steven Schott field goal and a Jahwan Edwards touchdown run. USF also kicked a first-half field goal and scored a touchdown on a Daniels pass to Lindsey Lamar. The Cardinals blocked the Bulls' extra point after that score.

Ball State is now off to a 3-1 start for the second straight year. The Cardinals will return to Mid-American Conference action next Saturday when they travel to Kent State for a noon kickoff.

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