|Rushing game carries ISU to first victory|
|Written by Tony Andracki, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Sunday, 14 September 2008 18:00|
As the rest of the nation battled hurricanes, tropical storms and unnatural weather, the Redbirds toppled Murray State 42-23 on a steamy September evening.
Many sports contests were either cancelled or postponed throughout the country, but things were on schedule in Murray, Ky.
ISU used four different running backs to combine for 235 yards and five touchdowns against the Racer defense.
Geno Blow led the way with 98 yards and two scores, while Parrish Fisher added 73 yards and two touchdowns.
ISU Head Coach Denver Johnson had a plan for rotating his running backs going into the game. The Redbirds did just that and rushed for 136 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
"We felt like our run game was getting better as the game went on," Johnson said on WJBC. "We felt we could get physical with them and maybe wear them down some. I think that's what you saw there as the game went on. I think our running game just continued to improve, which is what we want."
"We just want to win the surest way. We're not into fashion or all that stuff. We're just trying to win the ball game. We felt like keeping the ball on the ground and controlling the clock and field position was the way to do it [today]."
Despite a sloppy first half that saw six fumbles lost, including four by the Redbirds, ISU jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a Fisher touchdown run in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Tom Nelson, who had fumbled away a punt earlier in the game, ran one back 82 yards for a 14-0 Redbird lead.
The punt was originally in good position, but Murray State was flagged for Illegal Procedure and they had to re-kick, resulting in the Nelson return.
"I'm sure I didn't do anything," Nelson said on WJBC after the game. "I'm sure it was all blocking. I just caught the ball and got upfield."
Murray State did not get on the board until the middle of the second quarter when ISU squandered a chance to force a turnover.
The Redbird defense forced a fumble and middle linebacker Tommie Westbrook scooped it up, but then coughed it up and Murray State recovered. The Racers went on to eventually kick a field goal.
Brockway fumbled in his own end zone later in the quarter and Jamal Crook recovered for a Murray State touchdown, pulling the Racers to within four at halftime.
ISU opened the second half with a 73-yard, 6:27 drive, cumulating in a one-yard touchdown run by Blow.
Thanks to three fourth quarter rushing touchdowns, the 'Birds never lost their lead despite losing a couple of key players to injury.
Westbrook left the game late in the third quarter with an apparent shoulder injury.
Senior quarterback Kevin Brockway had to come out of the game in the fourth quarter when a cut on his chin he suffered in the game against Marshall opened up again.
Redshirt freshman Drew Kiel came in and effectively ran the offense in Brockway's absence and the defense was able to stave off the Racer comeback for the Redbirds' first victory of the season.
ISU hosts Eastern Illinois next Saturday in their first home game of the year. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.