TERRE HAUTE —
All it takes is one block. All it takes is one missed tackle.
That’s all Indiana State running back Shakir Bell needs. And in a flash … he’s gone.
It reads like hyperbole, but Bell has the tendency to turn hyperbole into fact. He did it again in record-breaking fashion on Saturday as Indiana State’s football team played its final nonconference game against Drake.
In the span of five electric opening minutes of the first half, Bell had touchdown runs of 60 and 48 yards. Those touchdowns helped No. 22 ISU pull away from the pesky Bulldogs for an eventual 27-10 victory.
But Bell did so much more. The junior rushed for 349 yards, as he shattered his own school record set last season (256) by nearly a 100-yard margin. His output also set the Missouri Valley Football Conference all-time single game record. Western Illinois’ Herb Donaldson’s 328-yard effort against ISU in 2006 had the previous standard.
Bell had 216 yards in the second half alone.
Drake coach Chris Creighton said he was “inspired” by Bell. On the touchdowns, Bell took advantage of two simple plays — a sideline block by ISU center Evan Borchers on the first TD and a missed tackle in the backfield by Drake’s Tyler Moorehead on the second — and used his speed and strength to make the Bulldogs pay the ultimate price.
From where Creighton was standing, it’s more than just the physical talent Bell is blessed with.
“How you defend heart?” Creighton said. “You can talk about the talent all you want. There’s a lot of talented guys. He’s very talented, but that guy plays hard. I don’t know how you teach someone to tackle heart. That’s what I saw out of that guy.”
For his part, Bell was frustrated with his 69-yard performance against Quincy on Sept. 8. Bell thought he did respond well to a 192-yard performance against Indiana on Sept. 1.
“Last week, everyone had the expectation of me breaking records. It set my mind off playing and I tried to hit a home run every play,” Bell said. “I was hard on myself this week to do the extra things. I’m walking on a cloud now.”
ISU (2-1) needed every bit of Bell’s yards as it had troubles in other areas. ISU had eight penalties for 60 yards, but several stopped ISU drives or extended Drake ones. The Sycamores were 4 of 11 on third down conversions and 1 of 6 at halftime. ISU was in scoring range three times and failed to score.
It added up to a 10-10 halftime deadlock. Bell had 133 rushing yards at halftime, but he turned it loose to start the half. His first touchdown came on a pitch to the right. Using Borchers’ block, he accelerated past the Drake secondary and scored a 60-yard touchdown.
“Evan is doing a great job. He’s doing the same thing FN Lutz did last year. He pulled around and got that last block in. It sprung me to a touchdown,” Bell said.
After Drake went three-and-out, Bell stuck again. Moorehead had Bell wrapped up in the backfield on an isolation run to the left, but Bell spun away and there were no Drake defenders to stop him. ISU led 24-10 and Bell set the school rushing record on the 48-yard run.
Bell’s excellence aside, it was up to ISU’s defense to preserve the victory. Though Drake piled up 372 total yards, ISU steeled itself when the Bulldogs (1-2) got into scoring range. An 18-play, 70-yard came to nothing for Drake when ISU forced a field goal attempt which was missed by Spencer Lee.
Early in the fourth quarter, Drake earned first-and-goal at the ISU 3. The Bulldogs tried four running plays, but couldn’t break the goal line. On 4th-and-goal from the 1 with 11:41 left, Drake running back Trey Morse was hit in the backfield by safety Larry King and brought down for good by linebacker Dillon Painter.
“The goal line stand was huge,” Painter said. “We took a chance by running in there, but playing goal line is about playing instinct. It worked out for us.”
It was a somber day for Drake. On the opening kickoff, linebacker Alex Thompson was severely injured. He lay motionless on the field for several minutes and was transported to Union Hospital.
Creighton said after the game that Thompson had feeling in his fingers and toes on the field, but was to undergo a MRI to determine the extent of injuries to his neck or back.
ISU opens MVFC play against South Dakota State at home next Saturday.
Indiana State 27, Drake 10
Drake 3 7 0 0 — 10
Indiana St. 0 10 14 3 — 27
Drk—FG Lee 22, 9:12 1Q
InSt—Lawshe 22 pass from Perish (Fritschle kick), 7:18 2Q
Drk—Rosa 7 pass from Piatkowski (Lee kick), 3:38 2Q
InSt—FG Fritschle 21, :00 2Q
InSt—Bell 60 run (Fritschle kick), 12:54 3Q
InSt—Bell 48 run (Fritschle kick), 10:47 3Q
InSt—FG Fritschle 35, 3:42 4Q
First downs 21 21
Rushes-yards 26-43 50-368
Passing 329 94
Comp-Att-Int 31-53-1 7-14-1
Return Yards 18 0
Punts-Avg. 4-33.3 3-50.7
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 3-37 8-60
Time of Possession 30:56 29:04
RUSHING—Drake, James 6-29, Morse 7-26, Scott 7-17, Piatkowski 6-(minus 29). Indiana St., Bell 33-349, Gordan-Lamar 6-20, Cheeseborough 8-11, Team 1-(minus 2), Perish 2-(minus 10).
PASSING—Drake, Piatkowski 31-53-1-329. Indiana St., Perish 7-13-1-94, Bell 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Drake, Orlando 6-43, Scott 5-83, Rosa 5-60, Cecena 3-30, Marshall 3-22, Teague 2-32, Morse 2-13, Schmudlach 2-13, Butler 1-20, James 1-10, Hohenstein 1-3. Indiana St., Lawshe 3-48, Bell 2-27, Mardis 1-10, Spencer 1-9.