Redbird rewind: After fast start in Fargo, ISU grounded by No. 4 NDSU Bison

Quarterback Zack Annexstad passed for 143 yards and one touchdown Saturday in the Fargodome. He also threw an interception. (Photo by

By Dan Verdun

Illinois State held its first lead against North Dakota State in six years before the Bison erased the deficit with 24 unanswered points.

In the end, the No. 4-ranked Bison posted a 24-7 win over the Redbirds Saturday in Fargo, N.D.

The loss snapped ISU’s three-game winning streak and dropped the Redbirds to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

North Dakota State — coming off a bye week — improved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the MVFC.

Illinois State took a 7-0 lead with 3:24 left in the first quarter on a Zack Annexstad 13-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Daniel Sobkowicz.

The score marked the first time the Redbirds had led NDSU since Oct. 1, 2016, when a Sean Slattery field goal staked ISU to a 3-0 first quarter lead. North Dakota State roared back to win that game, 31-10.

Illinois State had nine drives in Saturday’s game. After scoring on their second drive, the Redbirds produced 125 total yards on their final seven drives.

On those seven drives, ISU punted four times, turned the ball over on downs and threw an interception.

The deepest Redbird penetration on those last seven drives was the NDSU 34-yard line.

Game changers

0:43, 1st quarter: Following ISU’s touchdown, North Dakota State strung together a six-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game. Quarterback Cam Miller hooked up with fullback Hunter Luepke on a 20-yard touchdown pass.

2:04, 2nd quarter: Under pressure, Annexstad’s pass intended for Pha’leak Brown was intercepted by Destin Talbert at the NDSU 11-yard line. Talbert returned the pick to the Bison 48.

7:40, 3rd quarter: Facing a third-and-6 from the ISU 16, Miller completed a 12-yard pass to Braylon Henderson to the 4-yard line. Miller followed with 4-yard TD run. The point after kick lifted NDSU to a 17-7 lead.

What it means

The loss drops Illinois State into a fifth-place MVFC tie with North Dakota and Youngstown State, all of which are battling for playoff consideration.

Best ‘Birds

Prairie State Pigskin chooses the top three ISU players in the game:

Jeremiah Jordan, LB: The Chicago native had seven tackles and the lone ISU sack.

LaVoise-Deontae McCoy, LB: The Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate collected a career-best 10 tackles, six of which were solo.

Dillon Gearhart, S: The St. Charles East product registered a career-high eight tackles.

What’s next?

Illinois State returns home Nov. 5, hosting Youngstown State at Hancock Stadium in Normal. Kickoff set for 2 p.m.

One response to “Redbird rewind: After fast start in Fargo, ISU grounded by No. 4 NDSU Bison”

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