TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Indiana State Sycamores used a pair of touchdown runs by sophomore quarterback Ryan Roberts to end the nation's longest losing streak at 33 games with a thrilling 17-14 come-from-behind victory over Western Illinois on Homecoming in front of 6,028 fans at electric Memorial Stadium.
The Sycamores got 160 yards rushing from Roberts along with his second consecutive week of reaching the end zone twice in a game. His 91-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the longest scoring rush in the history of the program, topping the previous mark of an 85-yard run by Todd Yokem against the Leathernecks in 1989.
The victory was clinched after Roberts plunged into the end zone from the four-yard line to cap a 15-play, 80-yard drive with 4:12 left in the game. The game was sealed when freshman Andrew Blackmon picked off a Wil Lunt pass as time expired.
Western Illinois opened the scoring with a first-quarter touchdown at 4:12 - a one-yard run by Dre Gibbs - to go up 7-0.
In the second quarter, Indiana State narrowed the score to 7-3 with a field goal by Braulio Martinez at 12:55. Donye McCleskey then intercepted a pass by Lunt at the ISU 10 yard line and returned it two yards to set up the Sycamores' scoring drive. Two plays later, Roberts burst through for his record 91-yard touchdown run at 3:58, putting Indiana State ahead 10-7.
In the third quarter, WIU regained control with a five-yard touchdown run by Marva Carley at 2:51 to take the lead back at 14-10. The Sycamores would not go quietly, however, as Roberts punched through for a four-yard touchdown run, completing the 80-yard drive with 4:12 remaining in the game.
Roberts led ISU with 160 rushing yards and his pair of scores, while Antoine Brown added 58 yards of his own on the ground. Brock Lough also had two catches for 23 yards.
Defensively, Aaron Archie was the Sycamores' leading tackler with 15, including six solo and two tackles for loss. Jacoby Washington also had a double-digit day with 12 tackles, with one sack and two tackles for a loss of eight yards, while CJ Cook finished with 11 tackles, a tackle for loss and a 25-yard interception. Additionally, Ben Obaseki and Rod Hardy had a pair of key sacks of Lunt in second-to-last drive of the game, followed by an interception by Andrew Blackmon to cap the Leathernecks' final quarter effort.
Indiana State returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 31 against No. 3 Southern Illinois. Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is slated for 12:05 p.m.
Final: Indiana State 17, Western Illinois 14
Time of Game: 2:39
First Quarter (WIU 7-0)
WIU - 4:12 - Dre Gibbs 1 run (Brian Egan kick) - 16 plays, 69 yards, 8:25, WIU 7-0
Second Quarter (ISU 10-7)
ISU - 12:55 - Braulio Martinez 27 FG - 6 plays, 25 yards, 0:00, 7-3
ISU - 3:58 - Ryan Roberts 91 run (Martinez kick) - 2 plays, 88 yards, 0:51, ISU 10-7
Third Quarter (WIU 14-10)
WIU - 2:51 - Marva Carley 5 run (Egan kick) - 5 plays, 28 yards, 1:49, WIU 14-10
Fourth Quarter (ISU 17-14)
ISU - 4:12 - Roberts 4 run (Martinez kick) - 15 plays, 80 yards, 8:35, ISU 17-14
quarterback Ryan Roberts
On his 160 rushing yards
“The offensive line did a great job blocking for me today. When you have those guys up front and Brock Lough leading the way, it makes it a lot easier to run.”
On the team's defensive play
“We have all the faith in the world in our defense. When we had to punt the ball away late in the game, we knew that they would hold them and get us the ball back.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Rod Hardy
On the ISU defense
“We've tried the live by the ‘bend but don't break’ defense all season. They gained some yards on us today, but at the end of the day we held them enough to let the offense do what it needed to do.”
Senior defensive back Donye McCleskey
On moving forward this season
“We'll enjoy this win for the next several hours, but we know that there are more games this season. Now that we've got one win, we want more. We'll come in on Monday and go to work preparing for Southern Illinois.”
Head coach Trent Miles
On the team's offensive play
“Offensive coordinator Troy Walters called a great game on offense. All the staff, Dave Poinsett, Mike Denbrock, Luke Powell, Morgan Turner, did a great job today. They deserve all the credit for the way our offense moved the ball today.”
On the Indiana State community
“I think it's great for everyone involved. I have a great athletics director in Ron Prettyman, who has backed me and our football program over my entire time here. We have a great president in Dan Bradley who supports athletics. Our coaching staff will be able to relax more tonight and see our name in yellow at the bottom of the TV scene. I know I have a lot pride in this program, and so do all of our supporters and former players.”
On the offense and defense working together
“Our offense and defense really worked well together today. Our defense made stops, and on the next possession, our offense moved the ball. When the offense scored, the defense went out and stopped them right away. That's what we as a team have to do to continue to taste victories.”