Looking for a spark, Illinois State changed its starting quarterback. And while redshirt freshman Malachi Broadnax ignited the Redbirds' fire, South Dakota State may well have snuffed out ISU's playoff chances.
Chase Vinatieri, nephew of NFL standout kicker Adam Vinatieri, nailed a 43-yard field goal in overtime to give South Dakota State a 27-24 victory over ISU. The sophomore's game-winner followed a stalled Illinois State overtime possession that ended with a 39-yard miss by senior Sean Slattery.
South Dakota State, ranked fifth in the FCS Coaches Poll and sixth in the STATS ratings last week, improved its record to 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Illinois State, ranked 17th by the media and 20th by the coaches, slipped to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the conference.
ISU most likely needs to defeat North Dakota State next weekend to earn its way into the 24-team FCS playoff field. The Bison (9-1) trounced South Dakota 49-14 Saturday.
Illinois State head coach Brock Spack gave Broadnax, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, his first career start at quarterback and benched two-year starter Jake Kolbe. Broadnax, a native of DeSoto, Tex., entered Saturday's game as the Redbirds' third-leading rusher but had thrown just eight passes on the season.
"We went into the game thinking we would give him an opportunity, and we stuck with it the whole day," Spack said in the postgame press conference. "He gave us another dimension running, and he made some good throws."
Broadnax responded by carrying the ball a team-high 19 times for 63 yards, including a key 19-yard scramble that--along with a defensive holding penalty--set up a late Illinois State touchdown that sent the game to overtime.
Broadnax was 10-of-18 for 102 yards passing. He was sacked four times.
Earlier in the drive that sent the game to overtime, Broadnax's hustle avoided a turnover. After being sacked and stripped of the football, Broadnax outscrambled three South Dakota State defenders to recover his fumble at the Jackrabbits' 27 and thus save the Redbirds' game-tying drive.
Two plays later, Broadnax weaved his way on his 19-yard run. SDSU was called for defensive holding and ISU gained a first down at the Jackrabbit 5. Sophomore running back James Robinson powered his way into the end zone on the next play for a touchdown. Slattery's extra point tied the game at 24.
Taryn through for 6
Illinois State's game-tying drive followed one of the key plays of the game. ISU appeared to have South Dakota State pinned in the Jackrabbits' end of the field. Facing a third-and-three at his own 16-yard line, SDSU quarterback Taryn Christion took the snap and ran upfield on a designed draw. Eighty-four yards later, the junior sprinted into the end zone. After Vinatieri added the extra point, SDSU led 24-17 with 8:13 left in the game.
Trailing 17-7 late in the second quarter, ISU redshirt freshman Christian Uphoff took a kickoff five yards deep in the end zone, danced away from defenders around the 20-yard line and broke down the right sideline for a touchdown that was officially listed at 100 yards.
Slattery later kicked a 30-yard field goal just before halftime to the tie the game at 17.
Players of the game
South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion passed for 172 yards and ran for 110. He accounted for three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing).
South Dakota State's Chase Vinatieri kicked two field goals, including the game-winner in overtime.
Illinois State back James Robinson rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
Illinois State linebacker Brannon Barry had eight tackles (6 solo & 1 for loss) and a pass breakup.
Illinois State defensive lineman Adam Conley had five tackles (all solo) and an interception.
By the numbers
1 – Catch for 33 yards by South Dakota State All-American tight end Dallas Goedert
2 – Third-down conversions by Illinois State in 11 attempts
5.7 – Average gain on first down by ISU
8 – Times ISU has intercepted Taryn Christion in three career meetings
8.6 – Average third-down distance faced by Illinois State
ISU hosts North Dakota State in the regular season finale at Hancock Staidum. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.