|Redbird football avenges Sycamores in 17-14 win|
|Written by Kevin Massoth, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 23 October 2011 15:39|
In the fourth quarter of the ISU football game against No. 16 Indiana State, it was fitting that it came down to the Redbird defense against the Sycamores’ offense.
Last year, the Sycamores pounded ISU for a 59-24 win, but this time around it was the Redbirds who made the key stops in the end to win 17-14 at Hancock Stadium in front of a crowd of 6,867.
“I told the players in the locker room last week after we won that I had this one circled,” ISU head coach Brock Spack said. “It was nice to see our defense go out and make plays to end the game. We got that and now we move on to Southern.”
The Redbirds led 17-14 with 6:51 left in the game when the first test for ISU’s defense arose.
The Sycamores completed a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Leonard Riston touchdown catch to bring ISU’s Missouri Valley Football Conference rival within three, and on the ensuing kickoff, a Lechein Neblett fumble gave the road team the ball on the 14-yard line.
After a short gain on first down, the Sycamores were pushed back 10 yards on a second-down holding penalty. The Redbird defense held strong to force a 41-yard field goal, which Indiana State kicker Tann Fritschle missed short.
Following a three-and-out by the Redbirds, Indiana State got one more chance to score, but a holding penalty and a false start pushed them back deep in their own territory, and they could not get a first down.
Despite a lot of talk about the weapons on Indiana State’s offense, ISU senior linebacker Josh Howe said the Redbird defense was confident when they needed stops in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense is really close and we believe in each other,” Howe said. “We want to be out there in that situation. All 11 of us wanted to be in that position, and we wanted the game to be on our shoulders.”
The Redbirds limited the Sycamores’ offense to just 267 total yards and they sacked Indiana State quarterback Ronnie Fouch five times.
Shelby Harris and Nate Palmer each sacked Fouch twice and recorded two and three tackles for loss, respectively.
“It was a physical contest, and I thought we were going to have to win the game up front like all football games,” Spack said. “I think we had 11 tackles for loss and five sacks, and we didn’t give up a sack on offense. Our fronts continue to play well and if that continues, it makes it easy as a coach.”
Despite giving up 123 yards rushing to Indiana State running back Shakir Bell, Spack was pleased with his team’s run defense and was content to just not give up the big play to the Sycamores’ sophomore running back.
“Up until this week, if you told me we’d give up 123 yards to a back, I wouldn’t be very happy about that,” Spack said. “But against this guy I’m thrilled. You hold your breath as he tries to squirt out those piles out there. All in all I think we did pretty good against him.”
ISU quarterback Matt Brown finished the game 13-for-19 with 172 yards through the air and a touchdown. Tyrone Walker caught six Brown passes for 75 yards, and James O’Shaughnessy caught two, including a touchdown grab in the third quarter.
The win was the second-straight ISU victory over a ranked opponent, following the Redbirds’ 28-3 Homecoming win over South Dakota on Oct. 15.
“We knew this was going to be a tough football game against an outstanding opponent,” Spack said. “I think we were just a little bit better today.”