CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Keith Wenning threw for two touchdowns and Jahwan Edwards ran for three more as Ball State defeated Virginia 48-27 on Saturday.
Wenning also ran for a score as Ball State (5-1) shredded a Virginia defense that came in allowing only 299 yards per game. The Cardinals finished with 506 yards.
Wenning had TD passes of 11 yards to Willie Snead in the second quarter and 72 yards to Jordan Williams — a fourth-quarter back-breaker that put the Cardinals up 41-27 and sent many in the crowd of 38,228 scurrying for the exits.
Edwards’ 17-yard TD run sealed it. He also had scoring runs of 3 and 32 yards.
Virginia (2-3) came in looking for more offense after an abysmal showing in last week’s 14-3 loss to Pittsburgh, and they got it. The Cavaliers looked explosive at times as they compiled 459 yards, but they were done in by missed opportunities on overthrown passes in the first half and costly turnovers and penalties in the second.
Quarterback David Watford was 21 of 36 for 209 yards for Virginia, and Kevin Parks ran for two touchdowns.
Watford, whose passing has been mostly short-range this season, showed early that the Cavaliers would stretch the field more. His first two deep balls sailed beyond the reach of wide-open receivers in or near the end zone, forcing Virginia to settle for Alex Vozenilek’s 39-yard field goal to open the scoring.
A bomb to Tim Smith was broken up, and a long touchdown pass to freshman first-time starter Keon Johnson was nullified by a holding penalty. But the tone was set, and Watford came right back with the 46-yard pass to Smith, who out-jumped Eric Patterson to make the catch.
The Cavaliers’ willingness to go deep seemed to open things up for the running game, which was dominant in an 85-yard drive that ended with Parks’ second 2-yard touchdown run midway through the third period. Khalek Shepherd had a 31-yard run, and Watford gained a yard on 4th and inches from the 3.
But Virginia’s defense had no answer for the Cardinals. The Cavaliers also hurt themselves with defensive penalties, including a personal foul on Ball State’s first scoring drive, a roughing the passer penalty against Eli Harold that negated his sack and led to a Cardinals field goal, and facemask and offsides infractions that didn’t cost Virginia points but flipped field position.
Then things started to go awry for the previously smooth Virginia offense. Jeffery Garrett intercepted a Watford pass, and Edwards scored on a 32-yard run two plays later to put Ball State ahead 31-24 late in the third period. On Virginia’s next possession, tight end Jake McGee caught a pass but fumbled as he fought for extra yardage and Ball State recovered. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Cavaliers negated a 3-yard loss and set up Scott Secor’s 45-yard field goal to make it a 10-point Ball State lead seconds into the fourth.
Another penalty cost the Cavaliers points, but this time it was on the offense. On the first play after Secor’s field goal, Watford went deep again and Smith hauled in what would have been an 81-yard touchdown, but freshman right tackle Eric Smith — making his first start — was flagged for an ineligible receiver downfield penalty. Virginia still marched into the Ball State red zone but came away only with Eric Vozalenik’s 45-yard field goal to cut the Cardinals lead to 34-27.
The one-score margin didn’t last long, however, as Wenning connected on the 72-yard scoring pass to Williams, who slipped cornerback Maurice Canaday’s diving grasp for his ankles and coasted down the right sideline.