INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Ball State was originally scheduled to welcome Indiana University to Scheumann Stadium to start the 2011 season.
The University agreed to play the game at Lucas Oil Stadium in an effort to raise a little more money and perhaps excitement for the start of the Pete Lembo era.
In front of a spirited crowd of 40,224 spectators, the Cardinals beat the Hoosiers 27-20 to give Lembo his first win as Ball State Head Coach.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable. I just pray we can come back here in four or five years and do this again," said Lembo after helping his Cardinals sing the fight song to the students in the home end zone.
While Lembo's fantastic start has Cardinal fans understandably excited about the future, Indiana supporters are likely disappointed with a loss in a game many experts assumed the Hoosiers would win.
"Coach Lembo and his staff, background has always done a good job, they did well tonight. Credit those guys and really a credit to them on the line of scrimmage and we'll see if we're going to be worth a flip, especially in our league if we can make some serious improvement quickly, because we'll need to," said first-year IU head coach Kevin Wilson at the conclusion of his post-game session with the media.
It was a very well-played game as neither team committed a turnover, but Ball State's second-half dominance in the trenches proved to be the difference.
"It was a great feeling. The O-Line did a great job of just getting some movement up there so we could just hit the holes and make big plays," said running back Barrington Scott who hel;ped the Cardinals out-gain the Hoosiers 210-103 on the ground.
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning was efficient through the air completing 23-of-29 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Wenning also rushed for the other Ball State touchdown in the seven-point victory. Wenning did a spectacular job leading Ball State's no-huddle offense to 75 plays without committing a turnover.
"I feel like I have the offense down pretty well, each week it just has to get better and better," added Wenning.
It is hard to imagine a better start to the Ball State season and the Pete Lembo era in Muncie. The Cardinals beat their in-state rivals from Bloomington for the second time in four years and gave Ball State fans hope for a successful football future.
Ball State returns to action Saturday, September 10th at South Florida at seven o'clock, while Indiana plays its first home game against Virginia, also at seven pm.