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Monday, Sept. 13

Redbirds hang tough in loss to Minnesota

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[SEPT. 13, 2004]  MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- For nearly three quarters Saturday, the Illinois State football team kept the score close against Minnesota, but the Gophers, behind a pair of 80-yard scoring plays, pulled ahead and avoided the upset, winning 37-21.

The Redbirds fall to 1-1 on the season and get set to face in-state rival Eastern Illinois next Saturday.

Illinois State set the tone almost immediately and sent a message to the Gophers that the game was not going to be an easy one. On Minnesota's first play from scrimmage, Redbird linebacker Kye Stewart brought down Gopher running back Marion Barber for a 3-yard loss, leading to a three-and-out series.

On the Redbirds' ensuing drive, Yance Vaughan (33-57, 372 yards, two TDs, two interceptions) connected with Ramon Barber, who ran 43 yards down the Minnesota sideline and into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead. Barber finished the day with six catches for 66 yards.

The Redbirds forced the Gophers to punt on their second series when a touchdown pass was called back because of a holding penalty. Minnesota got on the board with 6:27 left in the first quarter on a seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Bryan Cupito connected with Jared Ellerson on a 2-yard strike, tying the game 7-7.

Trumaine Banks stalled the Redbirds' next drive with an interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Laurént Robinson (nine catches, 80 yards). Marion Barber put the Gophers ahead with 8:25 left in the first half on a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle, making the score 14-7.


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A 23-yard touchdown pass from Vaughan to Jason Horton in one-on-one coverage tied the game at 14. The Gophers regained the lead just before halftime when their two-minute drill resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run by Barber. Justin Martindale blocked the extra point, but the Gophers held a 20-14 halftime lead.

Minnesota pulled farther ahead in the second half with a field goal and an 80-yard touchdown run by Laurence Maroney. An 80-yard strike from Cupito to Ernie Wheelwright put the Gophers up 37-14.

James Temple stripped Justine Valentine of the ball at the Minnesota goal line, and a penalty for roughing the kicker set up the Redbirds' final touchdown. Vaughan ran in a quarterback keeper from 1 yard out for the game's final score.

Demetrus Johnson was the leading rusher for the Redbirds, carrying 14 times for 104 yards.

Game notes

  • Wide receiver Jason Horton hauled in his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter on a pass from Yance Vaughan.
    Wide receiver Pierre Jackson played cornerback for the first time in his career against Minnesota.
  • Demetrus Johnson ended Minnesota's streak of 15 straight games without giving up a 100-yard rusher.
  • The 16-point margin of defeat was the lowest for the Redbirds against a Division I-A opponent since a 20-14 loss to North Texas in 1996.

[Todd Kober,
assistant athletics director, media relations,
Illinois State University]

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