Grid squad haunted by ‘Ball State Curse’

By Dan Moran

MUNCIE, Ind.—A game played on Halloween, and under the spector of something called “the Ball State curse,” is bound to have more revolting developments than a Hitchcock classic.

One look at a 42-17 score should tell both sports fans and lovers of the macabre alike somebody had their heads handed to them.

It really was a day fit for a funeral, or at least a good mad-slasher slaughter, as the sun rarely showed its face in cloudy east-central Indiana during the Cardinal’s dismemberment of the Huskies. When it was over, Huskie players and coaches stood over the body and spoke somberly.

“Terrible,” was senior guard Ted Karamanos’ only comment on Ball State wins in 13 of its last 14 meetings with the Huskies.

“It was horrendous,” said offensive coordinator Pat Ruel.

“It’s fitting that this happened on Halloween—the ‘Ball State Curse,'” tight end coach Russ Graham said.

“It was a fun day,” said BSU head coach Paul Schudel. At least it was for somebody.

If a game played on America’s favorite day of fright is an open invitation to extensive metaphor use, then it’s fair to say the Cardinals swooped down on the Huskies early and carried them off to the slaughter. But that’s reaching.

What did happen was BSU jumped right on top of the Huskies 28-0 and kept them down for the rest of the game. The Cardinal players were animated and alive, and they got even higher as they increased their lead and protected it with some resounding hits on defense.

Meanwhile, the Huskies struggled to fight the wave of momentum riding against them.

“Let me say this,” Ruel said, “I’ve seen an awful lot of football games, and one of the most important things in a football game is momentum. A team has to take momentum back when the other team has it.

“I mean, we fumbled a lot today (eight times)—we didn’t lose any of them, but it doesn’t matter. That gives them momentum. They think they’ve done something.”

Ruel said the Huskies’ spirits may have been swallowed up during the long bus trip to Muncie.

“We had a rough trip. We had to take all kinds of back roads to get here, we went through a traffic jam on (Interstate) 294, and then you say, ‘That’s all right—we’re going to go out and kick their a–,'” Ruel said. “But what you end up seeing is a flat football team.”

One of the Huskies’ few chances to go from flat to fat came late in the first half when, with NIU down 28-10 but fighting back, linebacker Mike Higgins had a sure interception bounce off his hands with nothing but end zone in front of him.

On the very next play, BSU running back Bernie Parmalee burst through the Huskie line on an 82-yard journey to the NIU 1. Soon it was 35-10, Cardinals. Happy Halloween.