WEST POINT, N.Y. - Donovan Travis returned an interception for a touchdown and Trent Steelman threw his first career scoring pass as Army beat Ball State, 24-17, Saturday afternoon in front of 25,646 fans at Michie Stadium.
Travis, a junior defensive back, picked off two passes in the game. His second interception proved to be the game-winning score.
With the game tied at 17, Ball State took over at its own eight-yard line following an Army punt. Travis stepped in front of senior Kelly Page's pass on first down and returned the interception 18 yards for the touchdown. Alex Carlton kicked the final of his three extra points for a 24-17 Army lead with 6:41 left in the game.
The Army defense forced a punt on the next possession, ate up close to four minutes on the ensuing possession and then stopped Ball State on a late drive to win its second game of the season.
The Black Knights improved to 2-1 by rushing for 207 yards and intercepting four Ball State passes.
Steelman, making his third career start, completed 3-of-7 passes for 58 yards and a second-quarter touchdown pass to Alejandro Villanueva. He also rushed for 39 yards.
Kingsley Ehie paced the Army ground game with 67 yards on 15 carries while Jameson Carter picked up 57 yards on 14 carries.
Army linebacker Stephen Anderson and Travis led a group that limited Ball State to 121 yards on the ground. Anderson made a career-high 15 tackles, including 11 solo stops and teamed with Mike Gann for a key second-half sack.
Josh McNary registered two of Army's seven tackles for loss while Mario Hill and Andrew Rodriguez each had an interception.
For the third straight game, Army scored on its opening possession. Ball State won the toss and elected to receive. Army forced the first of four Cardinal punts and then mounted a 13-play, 80-yard drive.
All 13 plays of the 6:36 possession were on the ground. Carter ran for seven, Patrick Mealy broke off a 13-yard run, Steelman called his own number for seven more yards and then Alfred McDaniel scampered for a 19-yard gain.
Carter capped the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge. Carlton kicked the PAT for a 7-0 Army lead midway through the first quarter.
Ball State tied the game after an Army turnover. Sean Baker recovered the loose ball and then Page ran for a 15-yard touchdown to knot the game. Army fumbled six times but lost just one.
Rodriguez recorded his first interception to end the first quarter. Army was unable to get a first down but Carlton split the uprights with a 45-yard field goal and a 10-7 Army advantage.
Ball State again tied the game when Ian McGarvey kicked a 30-yard field goal with 6:13 left in the first half.
Hill's interception came late in the first half and helped Army go back on top. Facing a fourth-and-two, Steelman found Villanueva for a 24-yard scoring toss with less than two minutes remaining in the half. It was the first career touchdown pass for Steelman and gave Army a 17-10 lead at intermission.
The Cardinals, now 0-3, tied the game again in the third quarter. Following an Army punt, Ball State went 66 yards on seven plays with Page throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass to Torieal Gibson to cap the drive.
The score remained tied until the fourth quarter with each team trading punts until Travis' 18-yard touchdown.
Ball State was forced to punt on its ensuing possession after Anderson and Gann recorded a sack on third-and-eight.
Army got the ball back and used nearly four minutes off the clock before punting.
The Cardinals had one final possession with 34 seconds left after punter Jonathan Bulls pinned them down at their own eight-yard line.
Ball State completed two passes but the game ended fittingly with an Anderson tackle at the Army 23-yard line.