Junior running back Bernard Pierce rushed for three touchdowns on his way to pass all-time career leader, Paul Palmer (1983-86), in rushing touchdowns, as the Owls’ claimed a 42-0 blowout in a one-sided game against Ball State on Saturday at Schuemann Stadium.
Pierce clinched the new program record on a one-yard rushing touchdown with about five minutes remaining in the first half of the Cardinals’ Homecoming Game to extend the Owls’ lead to 28-0. The Cherry and White (4-2, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) relied on its running attack to generate 350 rushing yards in the contest.
Currently, the nation’s leader in touchdowns (15), Pierce’s rushes of two, four, and one yards all came in the first half to bring his career total to 42 overall touchdowns, including one receiving touchdown. Pierce carried the ball 30 times in the game for a total of 121 rushing yards.
In the Owls’ first drive, redshirt-senior quarterback Chester Stewart completed his second passing touchdown of the season, a 24-yard completion for senior wide receiver Joe Jones, to allow the Owls’ to take a 7-0 early lead. Stewart went 10-13 for 160 passing yards and rushed for 24 yards on six attempts.
The Owls’ defense, which entered the game as the country’s No. 10 scoring defense (13.40 points/gm) and sack defense (3.00), forced two interceptions, a forced fumble, and three sacks. The Cherry and White prevented the Cardinals from entering the red-zone during the game.
Junior defensive backs Vaughn Carraway and Justin Gildea each recorded picks on Cardinals’ sophomore quarterback Keith Wenning.
With the time of possession in favor of the Owls, the offense held onto the ball for nearly a quarter longer than the Cardinals. In addition, the Cardinals converted on 4 of 13 third downs, while the Owls moved the chains on 11 of their 15 third down plays in the game.
In terms of total offense, the Owls out-gained the Cardinals (3-3, 1-1 MAC) with 510 total yards to their opponents’ 236 due in part by junior running back Matt Brown and redshirt-sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer, who each tallied 114 and 74 rushing yards, respectively. Pierce and Brown’s performance in the backfield marked the second time in their careers that they each rushed for over 100 yards in the same game, and the 10th time in program history.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.