Gordon Helps Spack's Redbirds to First Win
Sept. 19, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - It was a night of firsts for Illinois State. Head coach Brock Spack recorded his first victory as leader of the Redbird football team and sophomore running back Cliffton Gordon rushed for his first career touchdown - then his second, third and fourth - as Illinois State defeated Austin Peay, 38-7, Saturday night in front of 10,158 at Hancock Stadium. The victory was also the first of ISU's season and the first home-opening win since Sept. 9, 2006 when the `Birds defeated Central Arkansas 18-3.
Gordon led the Redbird (1-2) rushing attack as he racked up 98 yards on 17 carries and a career-high four scores. Senior running back Geno Blow added 61 yards on 16 carries as Illinois State posted a season-high 153 yards on the ground. Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Brown was 24-33 for 205 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his second consecutive start. Senior Eyad Salem led the ISU receivers with six passes for 53 yards.
Illinois State's defense posted its best performance of the young season. The Redbird defense recorded six take-aways - four interceptions and two fumble recoveries - and held Austin Peay (1-2) to just 109 total yards. Junior cornerback E.J. Jones picked-off two interceptions to give him three on the season.
On their second drive of the game, the Redbirds converted on two fourth down conversions that led to the first score of the game. Brown found freshman wide receiver Tyrone Walker for an eight yard touchdown pass. The touchdown was Walker's first of his career as the `Birds jumped out to an early 7-0 lead at the 4:20 mark of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, a pass interference call in the end zone against the Governors set up a two-yard touchdown run by Gordon which was the first of his career. The Redbirds completed another fourth down to put them a perfect 3-3 for the game.
After a punt by senior Kevin Mazur that put Austin Peay at their own 1-yard line, the Governors marched down the field for an 11-play, 99-yard drive that was capped off by a 24-yard touchdown run by Ryan White. On the Redbirds' ensuing drive, Brown led offense on a 9-play, 84-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a nine-yard touchdown run by Gordon, his second of the game, to put the `Birds up 21-7 heading into halftime.
The Redbird defense took over the third quarter. Senior linebacker Kyle Siskowic recorded the first interception of his career on Austin Peay's opening drive of the half. Jones picked off his second interception of the season. Later, junior Jermaine Malcolm grabbed his first interception of his collegiate career. On the ensuing drive, Gordon recorded his third touchdown of the game on an eight-yard run to run the Redbird lead to 28-7 at the 4:43 mark.
The ISU defense held on a fourth and one to lead to a 48-yard field goal by senior Zach Kutch, to push the Redbird lead to 31-7 with 4.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The field goal was a career long for the Milton, Fla., native, topping the 45-yarder he kicked last week at Illinois (Sept. 12).
In the fourth quarter, another take away by the Redbird defense via fumble led to a five-yard touchdown run by Gordon, his fourth of the game. Illinois State's four interceptions move their season total to six, twice the amount that the Redbird defense generated in 2008.
The Redbirds will kickoff Missouri Valley Football Conference play next week when they host #18/21 South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits defeated Indiana State, 41-0, to open their Valley slate Saturday night. Next week's start time is set for 7 p.m. at Hancock Stadium, with a fireworks display to follow.
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