Redbirds Beat Southern Illinois for Fourth-Straight Win
Matt Brown was 17-for-28 with two touchdowns.
Matt Brown was 17-for-28 with two touchdowns.

Oct. 29, 2011

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CARBONDALE, Ill. - For the first time since 2006, the Illinois State football team has won four-consecutive games, as the Redbirds beat Southern Illinois, 38-30, Saturday afternoon at Saluki Stadium. The Redbirds (6-3, 4-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) earned their first victory in Carbondale, Ill., since 2005, and their first win against the Salukis (2-6, 1-5 MVFC) since 2006.

ISU receiver Tyrone Walker tallied his third 100-plus-yard game of the season, amassing 131 yards and one touchdown on seven catches. Marvon Sanders caught five passes for 82 yards. Redbird quarterback Matt Brown finished 17-for-28 for 254 passing-yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Brown also rushed for 13 yards on three carries. Cliffton Gordon led the ISU ground-attack with 55 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Ashton Leggett contributed 48 rushing yards on 15 carries, but his day was cut short after being ejected in the third quarter due to coming off the bench during an on-field scuffle.

SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner passed for 334 yards with a 29-for-37 performance including one touchdown to lead Southern Illinois' offense, while Cam Fuller gained 92 yards on five receptions. Boo Rogers topped Southern Illinois' defense with 10 total tackles, including six solo takedowns. ISU defensive back Mike Banks led the Redbird defense with seven solo tackles, and linebacker Evan Frierson contributed five solo tackles, including one tackle-for-loss and a half of a sack.

Frierson and the Illinois State defense scored the first points of the game during Southern Illinois' opening possession, as Frierson put pressure on Faulkner who fumbled a lateral pitch. Colton Underwood picked up the bouncing ball and returned it 53 yards, untouched, for the touchdown. Nick Aussieker's extra point was good, giving ISU an early 7-0 lead.

The Salukis went three-and-out on their next series, and the Redbirds started the ensuing drive from their own 42-yard line. Six plays later, Brown connected with James O'Shaughnessy for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Aussieker's point-after increased the Redbirds' advantage to 14-0, with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter.

Southern Illinois responded during its third possession, as Jewel Hampton scored on a six-yard touchdown run to cap off a nine-play drive. SIU's Jackson MacLachlan's extra point was good, trimming ISU's lead to 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Redbirds marched the ball down to SIU's 12-yard line to start the second quarter, but the Saluki defense forced Illinois State to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Aussieker, making the score 17-7.

The Redbirds added to their lead later in the second quarter with a six-play, 42-yard drive that resulted in a highlight-reel, one-handed touchdown grab by Walker on a 19-yard pass from Brown. Aussieker's extra point kick was through the uprights, building a 24-7 Redbird lead with 9:56 remaining in the first half.

Southern Illinois attempted to answer, marching the ball to the Redbirds' 28-yard line. However, the Salukis could not convert on fourth-down and eight, and the Redbirds took over on downs. However, Illinois State quickly went three-and-out, and the Redbirds were forced to punt for the first time in the game.

After beginning at their own 30-yard line, the Salukis manufactured an eight-play drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown run by Faulkner. The extra point decreased ISU's lead to 24-14. ISU attempted to score once more before halftime, but a 46-yard field goal attempt by Aussieker missed wide to the left with nine seconds remaining.

Illinois State received the ball to begin the second half, and the Redbirds manufactured a 13-play, 73-yard drive, that consumed 5:49 and resulted in a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle by Leggett. Aussieker's extra point was good, increasing ISU's lead to 31-14.

The Salukis pulled within 10 points late in the third quarter. Southern Illinois' Faulkner completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to David Lewis, following a 10-play drive that included the ejection of Leggett. MacLachlan's extra point was good, decreasing SIU's deficit to 31-21 at the end of the quarter. The Salukis pulled within one touchdown on a 33-yard field goal by MacLachlan with 9:26 to play. After the eight-play drive, the Redbirds led 31-24.

Illinois State responded with a crucial, eight-play, 58-yard drive that consisted of a 35-yard pass-play from Brown to Walker to move the Redbirds down to Southern Illinois' 21-yard line. Six plays later, Gordon broke free for a three-yard touchdown run, and Aussieker's extra point was good, increasing Illinois State's advantage to 38-24 with 4:23 remaining. Southern Illinois turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, and the Redbirds ran the clock down to 36 seconds before SIU took over on downs. Hampton scored on a one-yard touchdown run as time expired to make the final score, 38-30.

With Illinois State's final regular-season road game complete, the Redbirds return to Hancock Stadium next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff against Western Illinois. A limited number of tickets are still available for the ISU Family Weekend matchup by calling the box office at 309-438-8000 or by visiting GoRedbirds.com.

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