The Illinois State football team (3-4, 2-2 MVFC) extended its undefeated streak at the newly renovated Hancock Stadium to three games with a dominating 55-14 conference win over Indiana State (1-6, 0-3 MVFC) on Saturday.
Following a rough 59-21 loss to Youngstown State last week, the Redbirds returned home thirsty for redemption and ruled the Sycamores on both sides of the ball.
“It was a really good win,” ISU Head Coach Brock Spack said. “I thought we played pretty well most of the game. I thought we were a little sloppy in the second half, but our team did a good job of taking advantage of some scenarios in the first half and got a big lead and that was good. We needed that.”
Sophomore running back Marshaun Coprich scored three touchdowns and rushed for 137 yards — his third consecutive game with more than 100 yards on the ground. He had a career best 72-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“It’s fun to see Marshaun,” Spack said. “Marshaun has really grown up in the last three weeks.”
The first half was a career half for freshman quarterback Blake Winkler who went 7-for-10 for 193 yards (215 on the game), with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Anthony Warrum had three receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown in the first half.
“I definitely think it was a game that our whole team definitely needed, especially after a disappointing loss last week,” Winkler said. “It was a big bounce-back game for us. We really got things going offensively.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redbirds kept the Sycamores’ offense in check. Illinois State had seven sacks for a loss of 55 yards, which included two by Colton Underwood, and one each by Brandon Westphal, Dontae McCoy, Teddy Corwin, Zack Marshall and David Perkins.
The Redbirds were the first to get on the board with an eight play, 64-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Coprich, ISU 7, Indiana State 0.
On its next drive, ISU went 55 yards on four plays for a touchdown, including a 33-yard pass from Winkler to Warrum and a 9-yard touchdown toss to Phil Dudley.
“At the receiver position, I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays and I just happened to be on the receiving end of a couple of good plays,” Warrum said.
Following a fumble recovery by Underwood on Indiana State’s next possession, Winkler hit Cameron Meredith for a 12-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 21-0.
Kicker Nick Aussieker finished the ’Birds’ first period scoring barrage with a 25-yard field goal to give ISU a 24-point lead going into the second quarter.
The second quarter did not start out any better for the Sycamores. They lost the ball on their first possession. ISU then came through with a 56-yard touchdown drive that was finished off with a 50-yard pass from Winkler to Warrum. The lead increased to 31 for the Redbirds.
The onslaught continued on the ’Birds next possession with a 65-yard touchdown drive capped off with a 4-yard run by Coprich, who held defenders at bay with a solid stiff arm. The lead increased for Illinois State 38-0 with 5:27 remaining in the first half.
The Redbirds kept the momentum going into the second half with a Josh Burch 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — the fifth 100-yard return in school history. ISU extended its lead to 45-0 with 14:45 remaining in the third.
Indiana State managed to end the shutout towards the end of the third with a rushing touchdown by quarterback Robert Tonyan Jr. to bring the score to 45-7.
ISU answered back on its next possession with a 72-yard touchdown run by Coprich — his third touchdown of the game — to give the Redbirds a 52-7 lead.
Following the second fumble recovery on the day by Underwood, Aussieker finished the Redbirds’ scoring for the day with a 21-yard field goal with 10:22 remaining in the contest.
The Sycamores scored one more touchdown in the fourth and narrowed the deficit to 31 points, 55-14 — the eventual final score.
The ’Birds will try to keep their home field dominance going against South Dakota at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Hancock Stadium.