Illinois State falls in season finale, misses playoffs for first time since 2013

Illinois State falls in season finale, misses playoffs for first time since 2013
North Dakota State clinched its seventh straight Missouri Valley Football Conference title Saturday in Normal. (Photo courtesy of GoRedbirds.com)

Perhaps the howling wind and snow that invaded Hancock Stadium Saturday afternoon was symbolic of Illinois State’s plight. As the white powder obscured the field, the Redbirds’ hopes for a fourth straight playoff appearance also disappeared in a 20-7 loss to North Dakota State.

For the Bison (10-1, 7-1) the win means a seventh consecutive Missouri Valley Football Conference championship and one of the top seeds in the upcoming FCS playoffs.

For the Redbirds (6-5, 4-4) the loss means a fifth-place finish in the league and missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

With the poor weather conditions, both teams attempted to run the ball. NDSU’s Bruce Anderson ran for 95 yards on 22 attempts and Bison quarterback Easton Stick totalled 87.

NDSU, ranked fourth in the most recent national poll, committed no penalties nor turnovers in the game despite the adverse conditions.

Quotable

"Against the wind we went with Malachi (Broadnax) a little more and tried to run the ball. We went with Jake (Kolbe) most of the time with the wind. We had to use what we had in our arsenal to try to win it."

—ISU head coach Brock Spack on his quarterback rotation

Players of the game

Dalton Keene tied his career best with two sacks and finished the game with 2.5 tackles for loss.

Brannon Barry set a career-high with 10 tackles and added 1.5 tackles for loss for the Redbird defense.

James Robinson rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown, his sixth game with at least 80 or more yards rushing

By the numbers

0 — Points scored in first half

4 — North Dakota State punts inside the ISU 20-yard line

8 — Winning seasons by head coach Brock Spack in 9 years at ISU

10 — Completions in 30 attempts by both teams combined

22 — Seniors who made their last appearance in an ISU uniform

25 — Mile-per-hour wind during game

Up next

Illinois State opens its 2018 schedule Sept. 1 by hosting St. Xavier

 

 

 

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