Plitt and the Cardinals play on CBS New Years Eve December 31 | 12pm MST/2pm EST

Ball State takes down nationally-ranked Buffalo for first league title since 1996

“I’m speechless,” Plitt said. “Back in 2016, we said we would be the ones to change the program. There were some tough times. We stuck through it and here we are now – champions.”

Drew Plitt was named Offensive Player Player of the Game

Drew Plitt (Photo by David Dermer)

Plitt and the Cardinals play on CBS New Years Eve December 31 | 12pm MST/2pm EST in the Arizona Bowl

Detroit – Resilience. Toughness. Togetherness. Every superlative and description available for a championship team, Ball State earned it. The Cardinals are conference champions. 

Drew Plitt played football at Loveland High School and led the 2013 Tigers to a Division II state title.

This is how on December 6, 2013 Loveland Football won the Div. II State Title

Loveland High School sophomore, Drew Plitt was 5 for 5 passing for the game, with two touchdown throws in the first half, one to freshman,Tre Heath for 22 yards and one to Jake Elfers for 12 – in the 41-23 Division II State Championship victory over Glenville on Dec. 6.

The team rallied around the mantra “Detroit or Bust.” The Cardinals made that a reality. And when they got there, they delivered a primetime performance against a nationally-ranked team featuring the nation’s top-ranked offense, outgunning MAC East champion Buffalo 38-28 Friday night at Ford Field. 

“The credit goes to our young men,” head coach Mike Neu said. “I told the guys before we left the hotel that this might be the only chance they get to play in a game like this. We earned ourselves a MAC Championship. I might not ever leave Ford Field tonight.”

The Cardinals (6-1) exploded for 28 points in the second quarter, building a lead good enough to last. Trailing 14-7 after the first quarter, Drew Plitt scored on 4th & goal from the 1 to tie the game and the Cardinals took off from there. Buffalo (5-1) matched and went up 21-14, but the Cardinals ripped off 21 straight points over a span of 5:07 to build a 35-21 lead.

Plitt tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to Justin Hall to tie the game at 21, and after a stop on defense, Ball State took the lead. Plitt found a wide open Jalen McGaughy for a 56-yard score and Ball State would never trail again. One of the biggest plays came minutes later on a strip sack by Jimmy Daw. The ball ended up in the hands of Christian Albright, who ran 34 yards on the fumble return. That gave Ball State a 35-21 lead at halftime.

Drew Plitt (Photo by Dave Donoher)

Leading by double digits, the game slowed in the second half. Ball State was able to stymie Buffalo and almost completely halt the Bulls’ vaunted rushing attack. The Cardinals held a 166-134 advantage on the ground over Buffalo, a team that came into the game averaging 344 rushing yards per game.

“Our defense does not get enough credit. They rose to the challenge,” Neu said. “They were leading the country in rushing and scoring. It was talked about over and over. In our building, we preached how you can’t beat getting 11 hats to the football. I love our defense. I would take them over anybody in the country. I’m proud of the job Tyler Stockton and the defensive staff has done. Our guys responded to the challenge.”

Drew Plitt was named Offensive Player of the Game after throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another score. Daw (defensive) and Nathan Snyder (special teams) were the other players of the game. In addition to the impactful strip sack, Daw had three tackles for loss and blocked a field goal in the second quarter when the game appeared to be a shootout on both sides. Snyder punted six times for an average of 45.2 yards, including a 54-yarder.

Drew Plitt with the Offensive Player of the Game Trophy (Photo by David Dermer)

“I’m speechless,” Plitt said. “Back in 2016, we said we would be the ones to change the program. There were some tough times. We stuck through it and here we are now – champions.”

Tye Evans rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries and Hall added 55 yards on the ground. Tyler led the Cardinals with 91 yards on six receptions and the first-quarter touchdown. Dating back to last season, Tyler has nine touchdowns in his last eight games. Buffalo’s Antonio Nunn caught 13 passes for 182 yards.

(Copy from Ball State Sports and edited by Loveland Magazine)

Ball State (6-1) plays unbeaten San Jose State in the Offerpad Arizona Bowl on December 31 | 12pm MST/2pm EST. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

HIGH SCHOOL: Earned three letters from coach Fred Cranford at Loveland High … team captain and honorable mention all-district as a senior … helped the Tigers win the 2013 state title … owns the school record for career passing touchdowns (42) … completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for more than 1,400 yards and 15 scores as a senior … also ran for three touchdowns in 2015 … two-time all-conference pick … team captain and MVP for the basketball team as well … first team all-conference as a junior … a member of the National Honor Society.
 
PERSONAL: Son of Steve and Julie Plitt … born Jan. 9, 1998 … one sister and one brother … his father played baseball at Xavier, while his mother was on the Musketeers’ volleyball team … his brother, Bryce, also played baseball at Xavier … his sister, Marie, is a member of the Ball State volleyball team … graduated with a 3.586 cumulative GPA following the 2019 fall semester … full name is Steven Andrew Plitt.

DREW PLITT

Hometown – Loveland, Ohio


Offerpad Arizona Bowl Primer: Conference Champs Collide

The Ball State football team is less than a week away from its matchup with No. 19 San Jose State in the Offerpad Arizona Bowl.

The Cardinals and Spartans will kick off New Year’s Eve at noon MT (2 p.m. ET) from Arizona Stadium in Tucson on CBS and WLBC.

The matchup is notable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is head coach Mike Neu‘s Cardinals seeking to take care of “unfinished business” as they play for the program’s first bowl victory.

Conference champs collide
The Arizona Bowl is one of only two bowl games this season pitting two conference champions. The other is the College Football Playoff Semifinal between Clemson and Ohio State at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Ball State won the MAC Championship for the first time since 1996 by winning its last six games and taking down Buffalo in the conference title game. San Jose State went undefeated through the Mountain West Conference and beat Boise State in its championship game.

Another ranked opponent
After posting its first win over a ranked opponent since 2012 with its victory over No. 23 Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game, Ball State gets a crack at another one this week. The Cardinals are looking for back-to-back wins over ranked opponents for the first time. They have actually never played ranked opponents in consecutive games. 

San Jose State is ranked No. 19 in the AP Top 25, No. 20 in the Coaches Poll and No. 22 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. For its part, Ball State is receiving votes in both the AP and coaches polls.

Preparing for tough defense
San Jose State ranks 13th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 17.9 points per game, and has not surrendered more than 24 points in a game this season. The Spartans are holding opponents to an average of 111 yards on the ground and 338 total. They boast the best defense Ball State will have faced this season, statistically. But not just statistically.

“And the film shows this is the best defense we’ve played,” Neu said. “It starts with the guys up front. They’re very good against the run. They’re very good against the pass. They get after the quarterback. This is a complete defense. And really you talk about the team, this is a very balanced football team, very well-coached.”

On the rise
Both of these programs have followed a similar trajectory to become conference champions. Neu’s Cardinals and Brent Brennan’s Spartans both won just two games in 2017 but have steadily built to this point. Both teams finished 5-7 last season, knocking on the door of bowl eligibility, before busting that door down this year.

Making history
The Arizona Bowl is the first bowl game to feature two female athletic directors — Ball State’s Beth Goetz and San Jose State’s Marie Tuite — and a female bowl director — Kym Adair. Caitlin Schmidt of the Arizona Daily Star detailed the noteworthy happening.

There are 11 female ADs at the FBS level, and four of those are in the MAC: Goetz, Amy Folan of Central Michigan, Julie Cromer of Ohio and Kathy Beauregard of Western Michigan.

Versus the Mountain West
Ball State and San Jose State will be meeting for the first time. BSU is playing its first game against the Mountain West Conference since the league began operations in 1999. 

The Cardinals played three of the league’s teams — all in bowl games — before the formation of the MWC. The Cardinals squared off with Fresno State in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl, Utah State in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl and Nevada in the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl. 

Ball State was originally scheduled to play a Mountain West opponent this season, but the Cardinals’ home game with Wyoming was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not your typical bowl prep
In a typical year, teams would have somewhere in the neighborhood of a month to prepare for a bowl game. Not so this year. The Arizona Bowl comes 13 days after Ball State last took the field in the MAC Championship Game. It feels more like a welcome late-season bye week. In this sprint of a season, the Cardinals played seven times in 45 days between their Nov. 4 opener and the Dec. 18 MAC Championship Game.

“When you play what we’ve played so far without really having a bye week, guys need a couple extra days here to get bumps and bruises healed up the best they can,” Neu said. “There are guys selling out week in and week out who are simply sore and banged up. It’s really been helpful that way to have a couple extra days off.”

(Copy from Ball State Sports and edited by Loveland Magazine)

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David Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Loveland Magazine. To learn more visit the "About" page. (http://bit.ly/2gyn1s6)

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