Redbirds let Panthers kick it
Four turnovers keep ISU defense busy in 23-13 loss to No. 3 Northern Iowa
Sunday, September 30, 2007 By Kevin Capie
of the Journal Star NORMAL - Illinois State's defense couldn't overcome its listless offense in a 23-13 loss to No. 3 Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon.
Four turnovers left the No. 16 Redbirds having to defend a short field. Three times the best Northern Iowa could do was come away with a field goal.
On two of those in the first quarter, UNI had first-and-goal-to-go.
"I couldn't ask for a better performance from our defense against a high-caliber opponent. We put them in a bad spot a couple of times with the turnovers," ISU coach Denver Johnson said. "About all you can ask your defense there is hold them to a kick and we did that three times."
The defense kept the game close throughout the first half, with ISU's only score coming on a 50-yard touchdown run by Geno Blow.
The Redbirds never took a snap in Northern Iowa territory until the third quarter. Even then the defense played a part. Linebacker Bill Hronec picked off Eric Sanders' pass at the UNI 40.
"We're not gaining on offense like we need to," Johnson said. "The lack of success on first down hurt us after the first quarter. It seems we're doing everything the hard way.
"Even the balls we complete we have to make circus catches and hard completions."
The interception was the only blemish on Sanders' day. He left the game with a sprained shoulder but missed just one offensive play, an unconverted third down in the fourth quarter.
On the next series, Sanders marched the Panthers down the field for what would be the winning score with a 5-yard completion to Terrell Allen on third down.
"We were going to run the ball (since Sanders had trouble throwing)," UNI coach Mark Farley said. "(Eric) came into the huddle during the timeout and said he could throw it."
ISU continued to struggle moving the ball and Billy Hallgren's third field goal iced the game with 2:48 left in the fourth quarter. LONG SNAPS: Woodruff product Micha Gordon was one of five Illinois State players suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Only Gordon and sophomore Mitchell Moore were among the five who have played this season. Freshmen Clifton Gordon, Antwan Ryles and Cameron Thompkins were also suspended.
Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.
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