James Gilbert ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns to lead Ball State to a 31-21 win over Georgia State in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
Tied at two touchdowns apiece, Ball State took the lead for good with a 44-yard field goal from Morgan Hagee midway through the third quarter. Teddy Williamson and Darian Green each ran in a touchdown in the fourth to pad the advantage and hand Mike Neu a victory in his first game as Cardinals coach.
Georgia State struck in the first two minutes of the game when Jerome Smith intercepted a pass from Ball State's Riley Neal and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers scored again with a 14-yard pass fromConner Manning to Penny Hart to open the second quarter but were kept out of the end zone until the final minutes of the game as Ball State piled up 17 straight points.