No. 14 Redbirds Fall in Double Overtime to No. 4 Northern Iowa
Cliffton Gordon
Cliffton Gordon

Nov. 19, 2011

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NORMAL, Ill. - A 36-yard field goal by Northern Iowa's Tyler Sievertsen in double overtime lifted No. 4 Northern Iowa to a 23-20 win against No. 14 Illinois State Saturday afternoon at Hancock Stadium. The Redbirds (7-4, 5-3 Missouri Valley Football Conference) will find out Sunday if they earn an at-large bid to the FCS Playoffs despite the regular-season finale loss to UNI (9-2, 7-1 MVFC).

ISU amassed 443 total yards of offense on 100 plays compared to Northern Iowa's 191 yards on 50 plays. Illinois State also had possession for 42:20, in contrast to UNI's 32:40. The Redbirds were 6-for-7 on fourth-down conversions, while Northern Iowa did not attempt a fourth-down play in the game.

Illinois State was led offensively by Tyrone Walker who caught 12 passes for 84 yards. Redbird quarterback Matt Brown finished 33-for-49 for 243 passing yards and 28 rushing yards. Ashton Leggett was ISU's leading rusher with 65 yards on 19 carries. Defensively, Josh Howe had a team-high seven tackles to lead the Redbirds, while Eric Brunner made five stops, including a team-best two tackles-for-loss.

Northern Iowa quarterback Tirrell Rennie topped UNI's offense with 100 rushing yards and 61 yards through the air on a 10-for-23 performance. Jerred Herring caught a team-high 21 yards and one touchdown. Sievertsen scored 11 points on three field goals and two extra points. L.J. Fort led the Panthers' defense with 22 tackles, including nine solo stops, and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.

Both defenses dominated the scoreless first quarter. Although Illinois State moved the ball to Northern Iowa's 27-yard line on the game's opening drive, an illegal formation penalty and a failed fourth-down conversion ended ISU's early scoring threat. The Panthers did not convert a first down in the opening frame, and Illinois State limited UNI to just five rushing yards and six passing yards.

Illinois State scored its first points with a 22-yard field goal by Nick Aussieker following a 15-play, 73-yard drive. The Redbirds took the early 3-0 lead with 8:53 remaining in the first half. ISU added three more points just before halftime on a 37-yard Aussieker field goal that capped off a 14-play, 61-yard drive to increase ISU's halftime lead to 6-0. ISU controlled the ball for 24:32 compared to UNI's 5:28 in the first half, and the Redbirds amassed 196 total yards of offense on 45 plays in contrast to the Panthers' 18 yards on 11 plays.

Northern Iowa cut ISU's lead in half on the first possession of the second half. UNI drove 41 yards on eight plays, and Sievertsen connected on a 38-yard field goal to make the score 6-3. Later in the quarter Illinois State's drive into Northern Iowa territory was cut short when Leggett fumbled on the Panthers' 33-yard line, and the ball was recovered by UNI's Garrett Scott. The Panthers drove the ball 52 yards on seven plays to take a 10-6 lead with a two-yard touchdown pass from Rennie to Herring. Sievertsen's extra point was good with 5.6 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Redbirds responded in the fourth quarter with a season-long 19-play drive that took 9:58. Illinois State converted on all three fourth down plays it faced, including a one-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal by Cliffton Gordon. Aussieker's extra point was good with 2:57 remaining, allowing ISU to regain a three point lead, 13-10. However, Northern Iowa sent the game to overtime with a 40-yard field goal by Sievertsen with five seconds remaining in the game.

The Panthers received the ball to start the first overtime period. UNI capitalized with a 12-yard touchdown run by Rennie and a PAT by Sievertsen to give Northern Iowa the advantage. During Illinois State's overtime possession, the Redbirds converted on two more fourth-down plays. First, Brown picked up 13 yards for a first down to keep the overtime period alive. Then, facing fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Brown connected with Marvon Sanders in the right corner of the endzone for the touchdown. Aussieker's extra point was good, tying the game at 20, and sending it to a second overtime.

During Illinois State's second overtime possession, the Redbirds moved the ball down to Northern Iowa's four yard line. An apparent ISU touchdown pass from Brown to Walker was erased because of a 15-yard pass interference penalty. The Redbirds were ultimately forced to attempt a 37-yard field goal, which Aussieker missed wide to the left. Northern Iowa took over, and after running three times, Sievertsen made a 36-yard field goal to win the game.

With the regular season complete, the Redbirds find out if they receive an at-large bid to the FCS Playoffs Sunday morning at 9 a.m. during the live FCS Selection Show on ESPNU. Coverage will also be available on GoRedbirds.com following the show.

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