Illinois State junior Jonathon Miller, left, runs into Southern Illinois junior Bryan Presume, right, during Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, Homecoming game at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Illinois. (WJBC/B Corbin)
By WJBC Staff
NORMAL - Despite a strong defensive effort, No. 9 Illinois State (5-1, 2-1 MVFC) struggled on offense and Southern Illinois (3-3, 1-1 MVFC) tallied four interceptions in handing the Redbirds a 17-0 defeat Saturday, in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,000 fans on Homecoming at Hancock Stadium.
The shutout is the first for the Redbirds since Nov. 20, 2004, when they were blanked 28-0 at Florida Atlantic and the first shutout at home since Sept. 23, 1995, against Hofstra (27-0).
Colton Underwood and Nate Palmer led a spirited Illinois State defensive effort that allowed just 188 yards of total offense and 10 points to the Salukis. Underwood led the team with 12 tackles and tied a career-best with three tackles-for-loss, while Palmer's two sacks and three tackles-for-loss matched his career-highs. Southern Illinois quarterback Kory Faulkner was limited to just 73 yards passing on 7-of-21 completions.
The ISU offense struggled all afternoon, finishing 0-12 on third down conversions and mustering just 257 yards of total offense. Missing injured starting running back Darrelynn Dunn, ISU garnered 41 yards on the ground. Quarterback Matt Brown finished the game 21-for-40 for 216 yards, but was intercepted four times.
Southern Illinois scored first on a special teams touchdown. Junior Cameron James blocked Patrick Wright's punt attempt and Anthony Thompson scooped the ball and carried it 16 yards into the end zone for the score, making it 7-0 Southern Illinois with 5:38 to go in the first quarter.
Illinois State's Pat Meehan later recovered a muffed punt, giving the Redbirds ball possession on the SIU 41-yard line with 6:26 to play in the first half, but two plays later Brown was intercepted by Tyler Williamson, ending the Redbird threat. The Salukis would rally for a nine-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal from Austin Johnson, giving Southern Illinois a 10-0 lead at the break.
After the Illinois State defense made three-straight stops to open the second half, Brown connected with Tyrone Walker and Phil Dudley, before being intercepted by D.J. Cameron at the five-yard line to put an end to the Redbird threat. Interceptions from Terrell Wilson and Bryan Presume in the fourth quarter also ended two ISU drives.
Mika'il McCall's one-yard touchdown run with 7:47 to go capped the scoring. It culminated a 10-play, 91-yard scoring drive that included two third-down conversions and 30 ISU penalty yards. The Redbirds finished the game with eight penalties for 87 yards.
With 203 yards of total offense, Brown became the ISU leader in total offensive yards with 9,044, passing Kevin Glenn who tallied 8,862 in his career at ISU. Additionally, Walker's eight receptions gave the senior wide out the career record for receptions with 199, seven better than Laurént Robinson's 192 catches.
Illinois State remains at home next week for a Missouri Valley Football Conference tilt on Oct. 13 against No. 3 Youngstown State. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., with Redbird Preview starting at 12 p.m. on WJBC AM 1230, FM 93.7 and the WJBC/Country Financial Illinois State Radio Network.