Neal was 20-of-32 passing for 275 yards and an interception. His 10-yard TD pass to Jordan Williams capped a 3-play, 15-yard drive that put the Cardinals (3-6, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) up 17-3 in the third quarter. KeVonn Mabon had six catches for 150 yards.
Gilbert gained 73 yards on 25 carries and his score gave Ball State a 10-3 halftime lead.
UMass outgained Ball State 448 total yards to 427, but strong defense helped the Cardinals. Linebacker Ben Ingle picked off a pass in the end zone to halt one UMass drive and the Cardinals twice stopped the Minutemen on downs, including at Ball State's 21 late in the fourth quarter.