Redbirds Score 35-Unanswered Points in Win at Missouri State
Eric Brunner recorded two sacks and three tackles-for-losses.
Eric Brunner recorded two sacks and three tackles-for-losses.

Oct. 8, 2011

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Illinois State running back Ashton Leggett rushed for a career-high 178 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns, and the Redbirds overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Missouri State, 38-13, Saturday afternoon at Plaster Field. Leggett ran for more than 100 yards for the third time this season and the fifth time in his ISU career.

Eric Brunner led the Redbird defense with two sacks and six tackles, including three tackles-for-loss, as ISU shut out the Bears through the last three quarters. By outscoring MSU 28-0 in the fourth quarter, the Redbirds tied a program record for points scored in the final quarter. Illinois State quarterback Matt Brown completed 16-of-23 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, while Tyrone Walker caught a game-high seven passes for 73 yards and one touchdown. ISU improves to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while Missouri State drops to 0-6 and 0-3 in the MVFC.

Missouri State's offensive leader, wide receiver Jermaine Saffold, scored both of the Bears' touchdowns while amassing 207 yards. Quarterback Trevor Wooden was 8-for-15 for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and MSU's David Ingram recorded a game-high 14 tackles.

After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Missouri State scored on its first snap. Wooden connected with Saffold for an 82-yard touchdown pass, but Austin Witmer's ensuing extra point attempt missed wide to the right, and the Bears led early, 6-0. The Redbirds responded on their first possession with a 24-yard field goal by Nick Aussieker, following a 14-play, 69-yard drive that cut ISU's deficit to 6-3. Missouri State was then forced to punt, and the Redbirds took over at MSU's 49-yard line.

On ISU's first play of the drive, Brown attempted a deep pass to Walker, but it was intercepted by Jimmie Strong at Missouri State's four-yard line. However, the Redbird defense ultimately forced the Bears to punt from their own 11-yard line. Following another unsuccessful Illinois State possession, the Bears manufactured a two-play, 96-yard drive, highlighted by a 91-yard touchdown pass from Wooden to Saffold. This time, Witmer's extra point was good, increasing the MSU advantage to 13-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The Redbirds drove the ball down to Missouri State's nine yard line to start the second quarter, but as Aussieker attempted a field goal on fourth down, MSU's Mikel Ruder blocked the kick. Despite three second-quarter possessions, Illinois State did not score again before halftime, making it 13-3 at intermission.

Illinois State received to start the second half, and Donovan Harden returned the ball 27 yards to mid-field. The Redbirds moved down to Missouri State's 17 yard line, where MSU forced fourth down and less than a yard to go. However, Cliffton Gordon plunged ahead for a one-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Three plays later, Brown found Milton Colbert wide open in the right corner of the endzone, and Aussieker's extra point pulled the Redbirds within 13-10 with 8:53 to play in the third quarter.

ISU regained possession a minute later, as Austin Davis forced Wooden to fumble, and Brunner returned the recovered ball to Missouri State's 43-yard line. Five plays later, the Redbirds again converted on a fourth-down-and-one situation, with Gordon motoring forward for a one-yard gain to the Bears' 18-yard line. However, ISU had to settle for a 28-yard Aussieker field goal attempt, which missed wide to the left.

Following the failed try, Missouri State went three-and-out, and Harden returned MSU's punt 24 yards to the Bears' 29-yard line. The Redbirds took their first lead of the game with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brown to a streaking Walker who managed to get one foot in the endzone for the score. Aussieker's kick gave Illinois State a 17-13 advantage with 14:53 to play in the game.

The Redbird defense again forced the Bears to punt on their next possession, and Harden returned the ball 45 yards to the Missouri State four-yard line. Two plays later Leggett punched the ball in from four yards out, and Aussieker's kick was through the uprights to extend ISU's margin to 24-13 with 10:52 to play. Leggett scored again with a 75-yard touchdown run to cap off a two-yard drive, and Aussieker's extra point increased the Redbirds' advantage to 31-13.

On Missouri State's next possession, Mike Banks intercepted a pass thrown by Wooden, and returned it to ISU's 30-yard line. On the first play of the series, Gordon broke free for a 50-yard run. He finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run, and Aussieker's kick improved ISU's lead to 38-13, which proved to be the final score.

Following two-straight weeks on the road, the Redbirds return to Hancock Stadium for their Homecoming game against #21 South Dakota. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchase by calling the ticket office at (309) 438-8000, or by printing them from home by visiting the tickets page on GoRedbirds.com.

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