Illinois State Defeats EIU In Overtime


Published on September 17 2012 3:51 pm
Last Updated on September 17 2012 3:51 pm
Written by Millie Lange

NORMAL, Ill. – In the highest scoring game in the 101 meetings of the Mid-America Classic, Illinois State scored a touchdown on its second possession of overtime to defeat Eastern Illinois, 54-51, on Saturday afternoon at Hancock Stadium.

Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime period as Donovan Harden caught a 7-yard pass from Matt Brown on ISU’s drive.  EIU answered with Taylor Duncan’s third rushing touchdown of the game to knot the score at 48-48.  The score at the end of the regulation was 41-41.

EIU had possession first in the second overtime and Cameron Berra knocked home his third field goal of the game converting from 40-yards.  Berra had put the game into overtime with a 20-yard kick as time expired and ended the first half with a career long 44-yarder.

Brown hit Tyrone Walker on the second play of the Redbirds second possession for the 25-yard game winner.  Brown passed for 473 yards and five touchdowns as No. 15 Illinois State improved to 3-0 on the year.  EIU dropped to 1-2 and will open Ohio Valley Conference play at home against Murray State with a 6:30 p.m. kick off.

“I feel good about this team,” said head coach Dino Babers after the game.  “We played the No. 15 team in the country today and battled.  We need to clean some things up but we are ready to open league play next week.”

EIU took a 38-28 lead with 9:07 left in the game as Jake Walker scored from 13-yards out.  ISU responded with a Cameron Hunt 20-yard reception from Brown with 5:54 left and took the lead on a Harden 13-yard pass from Brown with 51 seconds left.  The snap on the PAT was dropped and the conversion was no good giving ISU a 41-38 lead.

Jimmy Garoppolo then drove the Panthers down the field in 54 seconds resulting in the Berra kick as time expired.  Garoppolo hit Erik Lora for one pass and put the ball at the three yard line a 23-yard strike to Chris Wright.  Lora finished with his third straight 100 yard receiving day hauling in nine passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Garoppolo was 37-of-61 for career high 387 yards with two touchdown passes to Lora and three interceptions.  It was Garoppolo’s sixth 300-yard game of his career and 11th best total in EIU history.

The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense and 186 total plays.  EIU ran 106 offensive snaps.

“Both defenses were tired tonight,” added Babers.  “I thought Jimmy’s leadership of our program was good tonight.  He was calm and drove us down the field to get that late score.  I was disappointed we didn’t get seven on that last drive.”

EIU rushed for 122 yards while holding the Redbirds ground game to 60 yards.  Duncan carried the load for EIU with 96 yards on 24 carries.  He had two first half rushing touchdowns.   Chavar Watkins was the Panthers top target on the day with 12 receptions for 97 yards.

The Panthers defense was led by Robert Haynes with 12 tackles and an interception.  LeQuince McCall and D.J. Bland each had ten tackles.  Mike Zimmer led ISU’s defense with 15 tackles.  Colton Underwood had 13 tackles and three sacks.

* ISU now leads the Mid-America Classic 52-40-9
* Most points by EIU since 54-20 win over Indiana State on Sept. 22, 2007
* Erik Lora three straight games with 100-yards plus receiving
* Chris Wright streak of eight straight games with a touchdown reception snapped
* EIU first overtime game since Nov. 6, 2010 (a 31-28 win over Tennessee State)
* EIU is now 1-4 all-time in overtime games including a 2OT loss to Illinois State on Nov. 11, 2000.