Illinois State dominate in 35-0 shutout of Youngstown State

Illinois State dominate in 35-0 shutout of Youngstown State
Running back James Robinson (25) rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns as Illinois State shut out Youngstown State 35-0. (photo courtesy of

It was a game that had to make Illinois State head coach Brock Spack smile from ear to ear.

The former Big Ten linebacker and assistant coach who is in his ninth year at ISU witnessed his Redbirds dominate Youngstown State 35-0 behind a rock solid defensive effort and a punishing run game that battered the Penguins.

“We ran the ball with some success, that’s the key for us period,” Spack told sideline report Kelly Burke at halftime.

Dynamic duo

ISU did that and more behind a young offensive line that has shown tremendous growth since struggling in a loss at Southern Illinois two weeks ago. The Redbirds had two backs rush for over 100 yards Saturday—Markel Smith (124) and James Robinson (117). Moreover, Robinson scored three touchdowns as the 16th-ranked Redbirds demolished 21st-rated Youngstown State.

The victory follows up ISU’s thrashing of No. 4 South Dakota last weekend and raises the Redbirds to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Youngstown State, last year’s national FCS runnerups, is all but eliminated from playoff contention. The Penguins slipped to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the league.

Rout in the rain

Playing in rainy Stambaugh Stadium, the visiting Redbirds controlled the game on the ground, rushing for 299 yards. Following a three-and-out from the Redbird defense to start the game, the ISU offense answered with a 72-yard drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Robinson ran the ball on six of the nine plays on the drive. The sophomore from Rockford capped it with an 11-yard touchdown run.

ISU’s defense got into the act moments later when linebacker Tyree Horton sacked Youngstown State quarterback Nathan Mays, forcing a fumble. Senior defensive lineman Matt McCown caught the loose ball and ran 26 yards for a defensive touchdown.

The closest the Penguins came to scoring occurred in the third quarter when they drove to the ISU 15-yard line. However, Redbird senior DraShane Glass ended the threat by intercepting Ricky Davis in the end zone.


“That was embarrassing. Obviously I’m the head coach; I’ve never been so disgusted in my whole life.”

–Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini

Players of the game

Illinois State running back James Robinson ran for 117 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.


Illinois State running back Markel Smith ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts.


The Illinois State defense held Youngstown State to 147 yards en route to recording its first shutout since its 45-0 whitewash of Butler in the Sept. 2 season opener.


By the numbers

2.9 — Average yards-per-play Youngstown State offense held to by Illinois State defense

 — Defensive touchdowns scored this season by Illinois State

— Sacks recorded by ISU defense

8  — Completions in 18 attempts by Youngstown State quarterbacks

81.5 — Percent of runs by ISU offense (53 out of 65 plays)

2015 — The last time ISU had two rushers over 100 yards in the same game; Marshaun  Coprich (217) and Tre Roberson (111) achieved the feat in the FCS playoffs against Western Illinois

Up next

The Redbirds return to home next Saturday to host nationally-ranked Western Illinois in the 100th game in the series between the two programs. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Hancock Stadium, with the game broadcast live on The Valley on ESPN3.


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