Senior Day could not have gone any better for Illinois State, as it beat Missouri State, 37-0, Saturday afternoon.
In a must-win to keep playoff hopes alive, just 7,144 were in attendance at Hancock Stadium on a beautiful sunny day for football. The Redbirds finish the regular season at 6-5, the seventh time in eight seasons under ISU coach Brock Spack that the team has finished above .500.
“I think our leadership on this football team is really good and that served to be true, because you don’t do what they just did and win three in a row, and put themselves into position to be talked about come the postseason, when it looked like we were in a tail spin. It’s a testament to our teams toughness, our grit,” Spack said.
This was the fourth consecutive week that MSU gave up at least 35 points. ISU had no problem moving the ball down the field, gaining 514 total yards. The Redbirds rushed for 268 yards and threw for 246.
ISU had two running backs reach the century mark in the game. Sophomore DeMarco Corbin rushed 11 times and gained 102 yards (9.3 avg). Senior Jamal Towns ended his career at Hancock Stadium with 17 carries for 134 yards (7.9 avg) and one touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Kolbe completed 17-of-31 (55 percent) passing attempts for 246 yards and three touchdowns, all to different receivers. He also threw an interception in the end zone when the game was already out of reach for the Bears. Kolbe was sacked twice on the afternoon.
Senior Anthony Warrum led all receivers in the game in both receptions (eight) and yards (133). He also scored one touchdown which tied him for second in school history (29). Warrum hauled in a couple of key third-down passes in the first half to keep the chains moving. ISU was 9-for-18 on third-down conversions, while the Bears were just 3-for-14 (21 percent).
“To finish the way we just did — the last three games with two huge wins — and to come out today and really score a lot of points today, it definitely makes [the playoffs] a possibility. It’s something they have to think about — one of the hottest teams in the country and some huge wins on that schedule,” Warrum said.
Missouri State racked up 193 offensive yards. ISU senior linebacker Brent Spack led the defense with 10 tackles (eight solo). Senior Dalton Keene finished with four tackles (one solo) and one interception.
Bears’ quarterback Brodie Lambert completed 15-of-27 (56 percent) passes and threw two interceptions. Lambert also led the team in rushing with 44 yards on 10 carries.
Brock Spack, about his son Brent’s last game in Hancock Stadium, said, “It was really fun. I didn’t know how I’d respond. In the fourth quarter I said, is this going to be his last series? Is this his last tackle? Is this his last play? He seemed to play well, look[ed] like he played well to me, and that’s the way you want to go out.”
The FCS playoff bracket will be released Sunday, and ISU will play the waiting game to see if a 6-5 record is good enough to get the Redbirds into the postseason.
Illinois State finished the season winning four of five games with three straight to end the year.