Normal, Ill. – Illinois State scored 28 straight points after trailing 28-7 and handed the eighth-ranked Youngstown State football team a 35-28 loss on Saturday afternoon at Hancock Stadium.
The Guins, who outgained ILSU, 410-378, fall to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while 14th-ranked Illinois State improves to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the MVFC.
Senior tailback Jamaine Cook rushed for 177 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns. In the first half alone, Cook ran 20 times for 145 yards and scored on runs of seven, one and 14 yards. Cook now ranks tied for fifth all-time in school history with 32 career rushing touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Kurt Hess was 16-for-29 for 201 yards and a touchdown while his counterpart Matt Brown passed for 225 yards on 20-of-31 attempts with three touchdown passes.
The Guins scored on their first four possessions of the game, led by as much as 28-7 and racked up 310 yards in total offense in the first half. The second half was a different story as the Guins could only muster 100 total yards and were shutout.
The Redbirds scored 28 straight points to take a 35-28 lead with 2:44 left in the game. ISU scored on its last possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half to get within 28-21.
ISU tied the game at the 10:36 mark of the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass from Matt Brown to Tyrone Walker. The Guins committed a personal foul on a third-and-eight pass completion that set up the Redbirds at the YSU 14.
The Redbirds scored the go-ahead touchdown on a quarterback sneak from one-yard out by Brown with 2:44 to go. Phil Dudley's 50-yard half-back pass to Lechein Neblett to the YSU one-yard line was the big play that set up Brown's sneak.
The Penguins took the opening drive of the game 76 yards in 10 plays capped by a seven-yard touchdown plunge by Cook - the 30th rushing score of his career.
After forcing a Redbird three-and-out, the Guins used a seven-play, 85-yard drive to take a 14-0 advantage with 4:39 left in the first quarter. Cook keyed the drive a with 44-yard run to the ISU 35-yard line.
Hess hit Kintrell Disher on a two-yard fade patter for the touchdown. It mark the 48th touchdown pass of Hess' career and the second touchdown reception for Disher.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Penguins were flagged for offside which nullified outstand kick coverage that pinned the Redbirds inside their own 25. On the rekick, Marshaun Coprich return to the ISU 49 set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Darrelynn Dunn to cut the Guins lead in half, 14-7, with two minutes left in the first.
The Guins answered by scoring on their third straight possession to take a 21-7 lead at the 12:34 mark of the second quarter. The Guins drove 75 yards in 10 plays and benefitted on a Redbird pass interference penalty on third-and-7 at the ILSU 21. A 16-yard completion to Will Shaw to the Redbird five set up Cook's second rushing touchdown of the game.
Cook's third rushing touchdown of the game – a 14-yard scamper – putting YSU up 28-7 midway through the second quarter. On the drive, Andrew Williams' diving grab across the middle pick up 45 yards to the Redbird 19-yard line.
The Redbirds again cut the Guins lead in half, 28-14, on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Matt Brown to Lechein Neblett with 32 seconds left before the intermission.
The Guins return home to host Southern Illinois, Saturday, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m.