MUNCIE, Ind. — Austin Smith scored the go-ahead touchdown on a quarterback keeper midway through the fourth quarter after a big interception by Robert Daniel Jr. and Eastern Michigan held on for a 20-16 victory over Ball State on Saturday.
Smith's game-winning 2-yard run came four plays after Daniel intercepted a John Paddock pass, giving Eastern Michigan (5-3, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) a first-and-10 at the Ball State 28-yard line.
Paddock staked Ball State (4-4, 2-2) to a 7-0 lead 4 seconds into the second quarter when he connected with Carson Steele for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Eagles answered with Bryson Moss' 4-yard scoring run and a career-long 55-yard field goal by freshman Jesus Gomez on the final play of the quarter to grab a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Ben VonGunten knotted the score at 10 with a 24-yard field goal. Paddock followed with an 18-yard touchdown toss to freshman Brady Hunt, but the Cardinals' lead remained 16-10 heading to the final quarter after VonGunten's point-after kick was blocked.
Gomez added a 38-yard field goal to pull the Eagles within 16-13 with 11:04 left to play. Smith's winning score came with 7:23 remaining.
Smith completed 19 of 33 passes for 193 yards for Eastern Michigan. He also led the team with 52 rushing yards on 19 carries. Hassan Beydoun had 10 catches for 85 yards.
Paddock totaled 178 yards on 15-of-26 passing with two interceptions for Ball State. Steele carried 24 times for 101 yards.