TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The No. 21 Indiana
State football team kept their string of consecutive victories on Homecoming
Weekend going on Saturday, using six touchdown plays of 30 yards or more to
storm past the Western Illinois Leathernecks, 46-24, in front of 8,255 at
The victory improve the Sycamores to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while the Leathernecks drop to 2-4 overall, 1-2 in league play.
Indiana State never trailed on Saturday, using a turnover on Western Illinois' first drive to set up the score. As the Leathernecks were driving into ISU territory, sophomore Zakee Bashir stripped WIU quarterback Josh Hudson of the football and fellow sophomore Tyler Boyd advanced the fumble down to the WIU six yard line. It took ISU just one play to score, as sophomore Shakir Bell ran for the six-yard touchdown to put ISU up 6-0.
A turnover led to ISU's second touchdown as well, as sophomore Calvin Burnett intercepted Hudson near the red zone following a lengthy WIU drive. Burnett returned the ball 45 yards on the play, setting another one-play touchdown drive for the Sycamores. Senior quarterback Ronnie Fouch hit sophomore Donald Spencer on a slant and Spencer did the rest, breaking a pair tackles on his way to the end zone and a 13-0 ISU lead on a 34-yard pass and catch.
The Leathernecks took advantage of a Sycamore miscue to put points on the scoreboard, as sophomore Leonard Riston fumbled a punt near the ISU goal line that WIU recovered. Hudson hit Aaron Muhammad for a 3-yard touchdown on the next play, cutting the ISU lead to 13-7.
After a touchback on the kickoff, it took the Sycamores just one play to score again, as Fouch hit senior Alex Jones for an 80-yard touchdown reception down the middle of the field. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, the Sycamores held a 19-7 lead with eight minutes until the half.
The Sycamores would hold that 19-7 lead when they entered the break thanks to pair of defensive stops. On WIU's next drive, sophomore Larry King intercepted Hudson in the end zone on a fourth down and goal to go situation. On WIU's last drive of the half, junior Ben Obaseki stuffed Hudson for a one-yard loss on a fourth down and four.
In the second half, WIU came out strong, stopping ISU after just four plays on their first drive. The Leathernecks went 74 yards in 11 plays on their first drive of the third quarter, using a two-yard touchdown dive by Caulton Ray to cut the Sycamore lead to 19-14.
After a three-and-out for ISU, Obaseki and the ISU held strong again, stopping the Leathernecks on a fourth-and-five play at the ISU 30 yard line when Obaseki picked up a sack. Indiana State took a 26-14 lead when Fouch found Jones again, this time for a 39-yard touchdown catch.
WIU answered right back, using a pair of 30-yard receptions to move down the field, the second being a 33-yard strike from Hudson to Muhammad that brought the ISU lead back to five points, at 26-21.
On Indiana State's next drive, sophomore Taje High moved ISU into WIU territory as the tailback took an end-around handoff for 16 yards and across midfield. Two plays later, Fouch found junior Michael Mardis for a 32-yard TD, pushing ISU's lead to 33-21.
Western Illinois picked up a 26-yard field goal by Pat Smith at the start of the fourth quarter after ISU's defense held on a goal-to-go situation, allowing Bell to put the Leathernecks away for the game.
On the first play from scrimmage following the WIU field goal, Bell scampered 51 yards for the touchdown and a 39-24 lead. The defense did their part as well, stopping the Leathernecks in the red zone when Bashir and Obaseki met in the backfield to drop Hudson for the sack.
Bell did all the work after that, rushing for 76 yards on five carries, including a 47-yard touchdown sprint. That touchdown was the scoring play of the game, as the Sycamores stopped WIU on their next drive before running out the clock on the ground for the 46-24 Homecoming victory.
Bell finished the game with 213 rushing yards on 21 carries, pushing his season total to 1,125. The sophomore tailback became the fastest runner in Indiana State history to reach 1,000 yards for the season, using just seven games to reach the milestone. Bell passed Vincent Allen, who eclipsed the mark in eight games during his freshman campaign in 1974.
Obaseki was everywhere on defense, making seven solos tackles and 15 assisted stops for a game-high 22 tackles. Of his 22 tackles, five came behind the line of scrimmage and three resulting in sacks. Junior Aaron Archie (18), senior Alex Sewall (17) and junior Jacolby Washington (12) all finished with double-digit tackles for ISU.
Fouch ended the game with 201 yards through the air, going 6-for-12 with four touchdowns and one interception. Jones grabbed a pair of touchdowns for 119 yards receiving, with senior Justin Hilton (2-16), Spencer (1-34, 1 TD) and Mardis (1-32, 1 TD) also making catches.
The Sycamores hit the road for their next game, when they travel to Normal, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2:00 p.m. (ET) for the battle of ISUs with Illinois State. The Redbirds sit at 4-3 on the season and 2-2 in the MVFC, topping No. 14 South Dakota at home this weekend, 28-3. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.com.