|FCS greater than FBS, ISU downs EMU|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette, Sports Editor|
|Sunday, 09 September 2012 12:57|
In its first victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team since 21 seasons ago in 1991, No. 18 Illinois State dominated Eastern Michigan for the 31-14 upset on Saturday in Ypsilanti, Mich.
ISU, now 2-0 on the season, holds a five-game win streak against EMU.
“I can’t be any [more proud] of these guys,” head coach Brock Spack told WJBC radio. “I’ve done this for 28 years, and I’ve never been more proud of a team than this one because they fought through adversity.”
In a focused game of defense, the Redbirds forced five EMU turnovers and held the Eagles scoreless in the second half, all the while recording a penalty-free win.
“Football is a game of discipline. That was one of our team goals when we went into training camp this fall — we’re going to be more disciplined in everything we do, because the things we do off the field [that] we’re not disciplined in follows us onto the field,” Spack said.
On the offensive side, Darrelynn Dunn led the way and collected his second-consecutive game in which he surpassed the 100-plus yard effort after amassing 129 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns.
The Redbirds quickly went to work on the field as they capitalized on an EMU special teams penalty with a 58-yard touchdown run by Jonathon Miller — his first career touchdown as a Redbird. Miller finished the game with 81 yards.
ISU defense then forced its first turnover on EMU when Ezra Thompson recovered an EMU fumble on a punt return. On the EMU 41, a 24-yard pass from Matt Brown to Tyrone Walker enabled a 26-yard Nick Aussieker field goal, giving ISU the 10-0 lead with just over one minute left in the first quarter.
However, the Eagles responded to the ISU offense as EMU quarterback Alex Gillett completed two long passes, including a 32-yard touchdown to cut their deficit to 10-7.
The Eagles then tacked on another touchdown to their score after a Redbird fumble, giving EMU the 14-10 lead at half.
“We came out strong, [but] we knew that we needed to play better in the second half,” ISU safety Ben Ericksen told WJBC radio. “We had miscommunications a couple times during the first half, [but] we came out in the second half with better communication … [and] trying to control the defense more.”
Heading into the third quarter trailing 14-10, two long scoring drives gave ISU the lead, which would go unanswered by EMU throughout the duration of the game.
After driving 67 yards down the field, Brown finally connected with Donovan Harden in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown which would put the ’Birds ahead 17-14.
ISU would then give the ball to Dunn in the third and fourth quarters to add on two four-yard touchdown plays to bump ISU’s score to the final 31-14.
“It’s [about] how you react to success now,” Spack said. “We play our rival school coming up — we know what this next game is all about. [But now, it’s about how we are] going to respond when we come in to go back to work — are we going to work to get better, or are we just going to be happy with what we did in the first two games — because we’re here to get better.”
The Redbirds return home for an in-state rival game against Eastern Illinois at 1 p.m. Saturday Sept. 15.