Redbirds Hold Off No. 16 Indiana State, 17-14
Oct. 22, 2011
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State beat a ranked opponent for the second-consecutive week, as the Redbirds topped No. 16 Indiana State, 17-14, Saturday afternoon at Hancock Stadium. The Redbirds (5-3, 3-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) were led by Nate Palmer who recorded two sacks, three tackles-for-loss and five total tackles. Shelby Harris also had two sacks, with two tackles-for-loss and six tackles.
The Redbird offense was keyed by Ashton Leggett, who carried 23 times for 57 yards and one touchdown, while Shakir Bell led the Sycamores (5-3, 3-2) with 123 yards. Redbird quarterback Matt Brown finished 13-for-19, for 172 yards and one touchdown. His Indiana State counterpart, Ronnie Fouch, was 10-for-25 for 175 yards and one touchdown.
After a defensively-dominated opening quarter, the Redbirds got on the board for the first time with a career-long, 40-yard field goal by Nick Aussieker. The field goal capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive, to give Illinois State the early, 3-0, lead. Indiana State responded with a six-play, 87-yard second-quarter drive that resulted in a 77-yard pass from Fouch to Alex Jones, who dove past a defender for the touchdown. However, the extra point attempt by Austen Wozniak was blocked by Harris.
Illinois State had to punt on its next possession, but the Redbirds quickly got the ball back. A powerful sack by Palmer forced Fouch to fumble, and Harris recovered on Indiana State's 15-yard line. The Redbirds engineered a six-play drive, including a fourth-down-and-one conversion. Illinois State found the endzone on a one-yard run by Leggett, and Aussieker's extra point was good, increasing Illinois State's lead to 10-6 at halftime.
The Redbirds added to their lead on their first possession of the second half. Illinois State marched the ball 80 yards, and ended the drive with a 10-yard pass from Brown to a wide-open James O'Shaughnessy for a touchdown. Aussieker's extra point made the score 17-6 at the end of the third quarter.
Indiana State got back in the game with a 13-play touchdown drive, which included a crucial fourth down and 8-yard play. Fouch completed a 22-yard pass to Leonard Riston for the first down to keep the drive alive. Five plays later, Ben Obaseki punched the ball in from one yard out, and the two-point conversion pass from Fouch to Riston was good, cutting Illinois State's lead to 17-14 with 6:51 remaining in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Illinois State's Lechein Neblett fumbled the ball and Indiana State recovered on the Redbirds' 14-yard line. However, a tackle-for-loss, offensive holding penalty, and two interceptions forced the Sycamores to attempt a 41-yard goal. Tann Fritschie's kick fell short, and the Redbirds took over at their own 23-yard line.
After the Redbirds went three-and-out, the Sycamores took over at their own 41-yard line with 3:45 to play. However, two penalties forced Indiana State to lose yardage, and the Sycamores faced fourth down and 28 from their own 23-yard line. Fouch attempted a pass to Hilton, which Eric Brunner hurried, and Indiana State turned the ball over on downs with 1:33 remaining.
Illinois State ran out the clock without Indiana State taking its only remaining timeout.
The Redbirds play their final regular-season road game next Saturday when ISU travels to Southern Illinois. The MVFC matchup is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. in Carbondale, Ill., and it will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
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