Monday, November 24, 2014
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ISU Football
Redbirds Claim Share of MVFC Title with 44-29 Victory Over SIU

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[November 24, 2014]  NORMAL Ė Illinois State quarterback Tre Roberson racked up 413 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns, as he led No. 7 Illinois State (10-1, 7-1 MVFC) to a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship, after the Redbirds defeated Southern Illinois (6-6, 3-5 MVFC), 44-29, Saturday afternoon at Hancock Stadium. The win gave the Redbirds their first 10-win regular season in school history and tied them with North Dakota State atop the MVFC standings.

Roberson posted one of his most impressive performances of the season, throwing for 319 yards and tossing three touchdowns, while rushing for 94 yards and a score in an offensive explosion for the Redbirds. ISU took control early, when Roberson connected with senior wide receiver Cameron Meredith for a 30-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the game. With just under six minutes remaining in the quarter, Roberson found senior wide receiver Lechein Neblett for a 70-yard score, as both receivers surpassed 100 receiving yards in the game. Meredith finished with 182 yards with a touchdown for his third-straight 100-plus yard game, and Neblett finished with 125 yards to go along with two scores.

Following a bad snap on an SIU punt attempt, the Redbirds scored a safety when the ball went through the back of the end zone and they took a 16-0 lead into the second quarter. The quarter featured little excitement, until senior placekicker Nick Aussiekerís 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked by a Saluki defensive lineman with 6:11 remaining in the quarter. With just under a minute left in the half, Aussiekerís second field goal attempt of the game missed wide-left from 39 yards out. The attempt was set up by a 67-yard completion from Roberson to Meredith up the left sideline, after the Redbirds were backed up deep in their own territory.

After being bottled up for the entire first half, junior running back Marshaun Coprich started the third quarter off strong with a one-yard touchdown run that put the Redbirds up 23-0. The Walter Payton Award Watch List member continued his historic streak of 100-plus yard rushing performances with his 11th straight game reaching the plateau and finished with 160 yards and two touchdowns after gaining only 33 yards in the first half. Coprich moved into second on ISUís single-season rushing yards list with 1,683, trailing only Toby Davis. He also earned scored his 22nd touchdown of the year, and now holds ISUís single-season rushing touchdowns record.

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Later in the third quarter, Roberson connected with Neblett for a 38-yard touchdown with 3:31 remaining in the quarter to up the scored to 30-8, following a SIU touchdown from LaSteven McKinney on a seven-yard pass from Mark Iannotti. ISU then took a 30-15 advantage into the fourth quarter, and Coprichís 10-yard rushing score gave the Redbirds some insurance. Roberson used his legs on a 21-yard rushing touchdown to wrap up the scoring for the Redbirds.

The Redbirds will find out when and where they will be continuing the season Sunday morning at 10 a.m., when the 2014 FCS Championship selection airs live on ESPNU. Follow GoRedbirds.com throughout the day for game and ticket information as it becomes available.

[Michael Williams, Illinois State University]

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