Illinois State grabs 38-37 overtime victory
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
One of Appalachian State’s greatest all-time victories was preserved by a blocked kick. One of the Mountaineers’ most disappointing losses ended the same way on Saturday.
Illinois State’s Shelby Harris broke though Appalachian State’s offensive line and blocked a Sam Martin extra point attempt, which preserved ISU’s 38-37 overtime victory in front of 16,719 stunned Kidd Brewer Stadium fans.
Former ASU safety Corey Lynch blocked a Jason Gingell field goal that preserved the Mountaineers’ 34-32 victory over Michigan in 2007. That blocked kick has been preserved through photographs, paintings and on video.
Harris’ block may not have the same impact on Illinois State’s program, but it got the Redbirds into the third round of the playoffs. Mountaineers head coach Jerry Moore said he’s never lost a game on a blocked kick on the final play of the game in his 31-year coaching career.
“Never. It’s the first time ever,” Moore said.
The Redbirds, who never trailed Appalachian State moves on to the third round where they’ll play the winner of the Eastern Washington/Wagner game, which was not decided as of presstime. Illinois State (9-3) is 6-0 in road games this season.
“If you’re a spectator, it was a great game to watch,” Moore said. “If you’re an Appalachian State Mountaineer, it’s a tough way to end the season. We’ve had a good season and we’ve accomplished a lot. It’s just a tough way to end the season to a tough ball team like that.”
Appalachian State (8-4) could never take the lead from Illinois State despite quarterback Jamal Jackson passing for 373 yards. Jackson also ran for a touchdown in the second quarter after the Mountaineers struggled offensively in the first.
Appalachian State eventually pulled even at 31-31 when Andrew Peacock, a former quarterback in high school, took a snap from the Wildcat position and found tight end Drew Bailey for a 10-yard touchdown with 3:54 left in the game.
Peacock was being hit on the play, but managed to lob the ball toward Bailey’s direction. Bailey caught the ball by himself in the corner of the end zone.
Illinois State (9-3) went first in the overtime period and scored on its first play. Redbirds quarterback Matt Brown found a wide-open James O’Shaughnssey for a 25-yard touchdown pass on a seam route up the middle.
Appalachian State answered with a 4-yard Jackson toss to Peacock on the Mountaineers’ fourth play of the drive. But Harris was able to get a good surge in the middle of the ASU offensive line.
“I couldn’t have done it without Colton Underwood,” Harris said. “We got a good push and I was able to stay on my feet and I was able to block it.”
Both teams were able to move the ball through the air. Brown completed 20-of-32 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns. Tyrone Walker caught 10 passes for 176 yards and touchdown catches of 41 and 32 yards.
O’Shaughnssey was the surprise receiver of two touchdown passes. He caught three passes for 78 yards, including a 9-yarder in the second quarter set up by a 53-yard catch he had down the right side of the field.
Jackson completed 33-of-45 passes with one interception. Sean Price was Jackson’s favorite target by catching 13 passes for 167, but no touchdowns. Price did his damage by setting up other scores, including his 34-yard catch-and-run that set up a 37-yard Martin field goal just before halftime.
Peacock caught 11 passes for 79 yards. Malachi Jones added a 48-yard touchdown catch-and-run on a wide receiver screen in the third quarter that closed Illinois State’s lead to 21-17.
Jackson was still nursing a sore knee he injured at Western Carolina on Oct. 27. He had to leave one series and was limping noticeably other times in the game.
“I just had to play with it,” Jackson said. “I’d rather keep playing than stop and fix what needs to be fixed. I can get another knee, but the seniors on this team, they’re not going to get another game, so I didn’t care how bad it was hurting. I wasn’t coming off the field.
Appalachian State’s running game was a different story. The Mountaineers were limited to just 51 yards rushing. Steven Miller gained 61 yards rushing, but got 45 of those yards on a drive that set up a Jackson touchdown run where he leaped over Harris to get into the end zone.
“I think we could have made a good run at this thing,” Moore said. “We played very poorly in the first quarter. We fought back, but I don’t think we ever really overcame the mistakes and the opportunities we had early in the ballgame.”
Illinois State 38, ASU 37
Illinois State 7 7 14 3 7 — 38
Appalachian State 0 10 7 14 6 — 37
ISU—Walker 41 pass from Brown (Aussieker kick)
ASU—Jackson 2 run (Martin kick)
ISU—O’Shaughnessy 9 pass from Brown (Aussieker kick)
ASU—Martin FG 37
ISU—Harden 17 pass from Brown (Aussieker kick)
ASU—Jones 48 pass from Jackson (Martin kick)
ISU—Walker 32 pass from Brown (Aussieker kick)
ASU—Chisholm 1 run (Martin kick)
ISU—Aussieker 41 FG
ASU—Bailey 10 pass from Peacock (Martin kick)
ISU—O’Shaughnessy 25 pass from Brown (Aussieker kick)
First downs 18 18
By rushing 5 4
By passing 12 13
By penalty 1 1
Rushes-yards 32-96 27-51
Avg rush 3.0 1.9
Yds gained 113 88
Yds lost 17 37
Passing yards 322 383
Passes 20-32-0 34-46-1
Avg. att. 10.1 8.3
Avg. comp. 16.1 11.3
Total plays-yards 64-418 73 434
Avg. play 6.5 5.9
Penalties-yards 7-46 5-35
Punts-avg. 8-44.4 7-48.9
Net avg. 38.6 47.6
Inside 20 0 5
Fair catch 0 5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
3rd down conv. 7-15 8-17
4th down conv. 0-0 1-2
Time of pos. 31:36 28:24
Dunn 21-67, Brown 5-27, Hunt 4-1, Harden 1-1.
Passing: Brown 20-32-0 322
Receiving: Walker 10-176, Harden 5-68, O’Shaughnessy 3-78, Dunn 2-0.
Rushing: Miller 17-61, Chisholm 2-1, Peacock 1-0, Hallock 1-(-5), Jackson 6-(-6).
Passing: Jackson 33-45-1 373, Peacock 1-1-0 10.
Receiving: Price 13-167, Peacock 11-79, Miller 5-10, Jones 2-61, McElfresh 1-44, Washington 1-12, Bailey 1-10.