MUNCIE, Ind. -- Trying to establish and maintain a running game is always part of Army's game plan. Still, coach Rich Ellerson likes to incorporate some form of a passing attack.
The Black Knights accomplished the first part, rushing for 402 yards on 59 attempts in a 48-21 loss at Ball State on Saturday. Quarterback Trent Steelman, however, went 0 for 3 passing with an interception, and backup Max Jenkins had one incomplete pass.
"We don't expect to be that one-dimensional, but we didn't stay on the field long enough," Ellerson said. "If we're going to be effective throwing the ball, it's not going to happen on third-and-long. If we're going to challenge people throwing the ball, it's going to be in early downs or either-or situations.
"It's not like we didn't call any (passing) plays; we just couldn't complete any," he added. "We completed one, but it was to them."
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning couldn't seem to miss. He threw for a career-high 324 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdown passes, leading the host Cardinals (3-1) to their first victory over the Black Knights (1-3) in three tries.
"We saw their secondary had a couple weak guys, so we wanted to take advantage of it," said Wenning, who finished 24 of 30 with no interceptions. He was replaced by Kelly Page after the third quarter.
Raymond Maples had 16 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns for the Black Knights, who were seeking their first back-to-back wins since early last season. Jared Hassin added 17 carries and 111 yards.
Army's defense struggled and Ball State took a 31-0 lead at halftime.
"I don't know that we ever got it slowed down," Ellerson said. "Their quarterback had a hot hand, and we couldn't get close enough to cool it off. I was disappointed to see how effective they were with some real basic run plays against our base defense. They pushed us around."
Ball State last began a season 3-1 in 1995.
"This turned out to be a pretty good month of September," Cardinals coach Pete Lembo said. "It probably exceeded my expectations just because we have such a long way to go in so many areas before we feel complete."
Ball State wasted no time taking control of the game, marching down the field on its opening possession. Edwards' 3-yard scoring run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Edwards found the end zone again, this time from 12 yards out, to make it 14-0. Wenning followed with scoring passes to Jamill Smith and Snead on consecutive possessions later in the quarter, extending the lead to 28-0.
Ball State finished the half with 333 yards of total offense and 17 first downs, compared to Army's 101 yards and four first downs.
After another Cardinals' touchdown in the third quarter, the Black Knights cut the deficit to 38-7 on Maples' 1-yard scoring run with 4:11 left in the quarter. Maples scored on a 19-yard run early in the fourth, and Terry Baggett added a 7-yard touchdown run for Army with 1:07 left.
"Give them credit," Ellerson said. "Their offensive line played wonderfully. Their quarterback played his best game. We didn't have the answers to counter that."
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