Redbirds Trail Leathernecks, 38-28, After Three
Tom Nelson
Tom Nelson
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Nov. 15, 2008

MACOMB, Ill. - Illinois State running backs Walter Mendenhall and Geno Blow combined for 186 yards and three touchdowns but the Redbirds still trailed Western Illinois 38-28 at the end of the third quarter at Hanson Field Saturday.

Mendenhall surpassed the 100-yard mark in the third quarter to go along with a pair of touchdowns and Blow reached the end zone for the first time on a 2-yard run in the third. Mendenhall scored on runs of six and 18 yards in the first half, his fifth and sixth rushing touchdowns in the past three games. Mendenhall leads Illinois State with 10 rushing touchdowns this season.

As good as Mendenhall was for the Redbirds, Western Illinois' running back Herb Donaldson was the top back in the first half. Donaldson rushed for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Illinois State led 7-3 after the first quarter as both teams scored on their opening drives. Western Illinois marched down the field on the game's opening possession, but were held to a 30-yard field goal by the Redbird defense. Illinois State answered on the next drive with a 62-yard drive, including 41 yards from Mendenhall and the 6-yard scoring run.

The second quarter started with a flurry of scoring from both teams. Western Illinois jumped ahead 14-10 after an 8-yard pass from Matt Barr to Matt Werner. Illinois State's Tom Nelson returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, his second kick return for a touchdown this season and the fifth-longest kickoff return in ISU history.

Donaldson scored his first touchdown for the Leathernecks just under two minutes later, but again, the Redbirds answered with Mendenhall, who had an 18-yard scamper give Illinois State a 21-17 advantage with 6:17 left in the half. Donaldson reached the 100-yard mark on the next drive and broke a 34-yard run for a touchdown to put Western Illinois back on top.

 

 

The Leathernecks added another score before halftime after recovering a Mendenhall fumble and driving to the goal line. Barr snuck through the pile with 32 seconds left in the second quarter to give Western Illinois a 10-point halftime lead.

Illinois State turned the ball over twice in the opening half, with Kevin Brockway throwing an interception to go with Mendenhall's fumble. Western Illinois outgained the Redbirds 285-161 in the first half and both teams combined for eight penalties.