Western rewind: Indiana State plays keep away, leans on defense to blank WIU

Indiana State collected three sacks of WIU quarterback Clay Bruno in Macomb Saturday and had nine tackles for loss. (Photo by GoSycamores.com)

By Barry Bottino

Indiana State’s beat the clock strategy was right on time Saturday in Macomb.

The Sycamores held the football for more than 38 minutes on offense against Western Illinois and used a stifling defense for its first shutout since 2018, beating the Leathernecks, 21-0, in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game.

“They did a great job staying on the field,” WIU head coach Myers Hendrickson said. “They ran it 51 times and had a big piece of possession.”

Western managed only nine yards rushing on 21 attempts, while the Sycamores grinded out 163 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

With the loss, Western (0-10 overall, 0-7 MVFC) extended the nation’s longest FCS losing streak to 12 games. ISU improved to 2-8, 1-6.

After keeping the Sycamores scoreless for more than 38 minutes in the first half, Western was called for a critical second-quarter targeting penalty, which led to the ejection of defensive back Bryce Cross.

Three plays later, on a third down and 20 play for ISU, Western defensive lineman Tre Henry was whistled for a face mask, setting the Sycamores up at the WIU 7.

Indiana State’s Josh Dinka ran for a 7-yard score two plays later. Dinka rushed for a game-high 97 yards.

Just before halftime, the Sycamores drove 67 yards in 1 minute, 19 seconds to take a 14-0 halftime lead.

Western quarterback Clay Bruno was 16-for-28 passing for 193 yards, but he was sacked three times and intercepted twice.

Game changers

4:58, 2nd quarter: Cross is ejected for targeting, which gives Indiana State a first down. Five plays later, Dinka scored.

0:38, 2nd quarter: Dante Hendrix caught a 10-yard TD pass to give the Sycamores a 14-0 lead just before halftime.

13:23, 3rd quarter: Bruno completes a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Naseim Brantley for the biggest gain of the day for Western.

What it means

The Leathernecks remain one of only two winless teams in FCS. Robert Morris (0-10) lost Saturday to Murray State, 27-9.

Nifty ‘Necks

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

Chase Graham, LB: A sophomore from Sterling, Graham collected a game-high 11 tackles, including a tackle for loss.  

Brantley: Despite sustaining a second-half injury, Brantley led all players with 83 receiving yards on five receptions.

Juan DelaCruz, LB: The junior posted 10 tackles, his second game in the past three with double-digit stops.

What’s next?

Western Illinois closes out its regular season Nov. 19 with a visit to Illinois State for an 11 a.m. MVFC kickoff.

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