TERRE HAUTE —
In the last two seasons, six has been the pits for the Indiana State football team.
But seven? It just might prove to be ISU’s ticket to Football Championship Subdivision playoff heaven.
ISU earned its seventh win of the season with a definitive 45-14 victory over South Dakota on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. It was ISU’s fifth consecutive victory, its best win streak since 1995.
In the previous two seasons, ISU had to sit and watch as its 6-5 mark wasn’t deemed good enough to qualify for the FCS playoff field. Now at 7-2 on the season, the seven-win mark is significant hurdle the Sycamores have cleared to solidify their playoff hopes.
“I was here in ’09 when we were 1-10. To get seven wins, not a lot of people believed we could get here. We’re here. We’ll never forget where we came from, but we always have our minds set on bigger goals. We don’t want to stop. We don’t want to be 7-4,” ISU linebacker Jacolby Washington said.
Though ISU has six Division I wins at present (one of its seven wins was against Division II Quincy), ISU is ranked in the top 10 of the Gridiron Power Index, the football version of the RPI that’s used as a guide to determine the FCS field.
Most important, ISU is in a good position to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship. Combined with Southern Illinois’ loss at North Dakota State, ISU now has first place to itself in the MVFC by a half-game over NDSU and South Dakota State. The Sycamores, Bison and Jackrabbits are tied in the loss column.
Playoffs are a distinct possibility … not that anyone wants to spike that football just yet.
“Our work isn’t done. We’re taking it by steps. South Dakota was step one. We’re proud to be where we’re at. We should be 7-2. We feel we’re better than 7-2. We’re still going to play with a chip on our shoulder,” said ISU running back Shakir Bell, who had 150 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
The Sycamores (7-2, 5-1) beat the Coyotes with perhaps their best start on both sides of the ball as they’ve had all season. ISU scored on their opening drive. Bell capped a 13-play, 77-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0.
Washington become the latest defensive player to cross over and help ISU out in its goal line offense as Bell’s lead blocker on the touchdown.
“Blocking is cool with me. It reminded me of my old days in high school playing fullback. I wish I could get the ball,” Washington said.
Quarterback Mike Perish was also in rhythm on the opening drive. All three of his completed passes for first down gains.
“Our whole offense played well on that drive. Shakir made some plays and is making people miss. He got us into some short third downs and that always helps,” Perish said.
ISU’s defense would tilt field position in the Sycamores’ favor throughout the first half. USD had just three first downs in the first 30 minutes.
ISU took advantage as it had to march just 43 yards on its second series that was capped off by a 6-yard Perish-to-Michael Mardis touchdown connection to make it 14-0.
USD’s inability to get out of the shadow of its own end zone haunted it again late in the first quarter. Stuck at the USD 14, Coyotes quarterback Josh Vander Maten overthrew his intended receiver. His errant pass fell into the waiting arms of ISU cornerback Johnny Towalid.
Towalid had an easy 25-yard path down USD’s sideline into the end zone to put ISU up 21-0. It was Towalid’s third interception return for a touchdown this season, a new single-season record.
“They ran double slants and I just happened to read the quarterback. It wasn’t a good throw, it was high, it came right to me. I saw the end zone and went for it,” Towalid said.
The Sycamores would continue to pour it on. Bell scored again – this time on a 3-yard plunge up the gut -- with 8:20 left in the first half to make it 28-0, an advantage ISU would maintain at halftime.
“We got out early on them. Our kids were sharp in what they were trying to execute,” ISU coach Trent Miles said. “We were 8 of 13 on third conversions. That’s a lot better than we’ve been and its been an area of concern for us.”
USD (1-7, 0-5) scored on its first drive of the second half – via a 5-yard Jasper Sanders run to make it 28-7 – but ISU would not let the Coyotes get any hope.
A Tanner Fritschle field goal, a 25-yard Perish-to-Bell TD pass and another interception return for a touchdown – this time a 52-yarder by Donovan Layne ensured that USD would be on the wrong end of a rout.
“I take my hat off to [the ISU] coaching staff. Four years ago, this program was underwater and sinking. I remember talking to [Miles] on the phone. He was looking high and low for players. He’s found them,” USD coach Joe Glenn said.
Injury-wise, ISU safety Mark Sewall suffered a sprained knee. Miles was confident that Sewall’s injury wasn’t serious.
ISU plays its final regular season home game of the season next Saturday as rival Illinois State visits.
TERRE HAUTE —
In the last two seasons, six has been the pits for the Indiana State football team.
DeNato proves IU can pitch too
Joey DeNato dispelled the notion that College World Series newcomer Indiana is all about offense.
The junior left-hander threw a four-hitter and the Hoosiers looked mighty comfortable at TD Ameritrade Park while beating Louisville 2-0 on Saturday night.
Etherington, Moore happy to be with ISU basketball
Not even two weeks into their college experience, Indiana State freshmen men’s basketball players Alex Etherington and Demetrius Moore stood sentinel as 115 kids ran around them collecting basketballs and getting autographs at the Greg Lansing Basketball Camp on Thursday.
ISU's Johnson invited to World University Games
Indiana State senior Felisha Johnson will be traveling the world this summer after being named to represent the United States in the women’s shot put at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13
When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)
Q&A: ISU football coach Mike Sanford ready for fall
It’s hard to believe, but Mike Sanford has already been Indiana State’s football coach for six months.
Time flies, but Sanford’s task of preparing for his first season in charge of the Sycamores comes with few breaks.
Rex streak ends at 7
The Terre Haute Rex table setters — Kyle Kempf and Tyler Wampler — had three of the team’s eight hits Friday at Bob Warn Field, but the Rex offense found itself in a big early deficit for the first time this season.
Manaea’s selection puts ISU in spotlight
Once the stress and hang-wringing over where Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea might get drafted was over, the angst subsided and was replaced with a happier emotion. Pride.
ISU’s Hope places 13th in NCAA pole vault
Indiana State senior Nicole Hope concluded her final competition of the 2013 outdoor season on Friday as she tied for 13th in the women’s pole vault at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Metro roundup: Former Sycamores take talents to CFL
Former Indiana State players Johnny Towalid and Justin Hilton were signed by teams in the Canadian Football League this week.
Exit Minnesota, enter Oregon State on 2016 football schedule
When the Big Ten Conference implemented a nine-game football schedule starting in 2016 and discouraged members from playing Football Championship Subdivision teams, there was one game on Indiana State’s future schedule that was likely on borrowed time.
ISU’s scheduled game at Minnesota in 2016.
METRO ROUNDUP: Swift reaches finals of NCAA Championships in 110-meter hurdles
Indiana State junior Greggmar Swift will be among the top eight in the NCAA in the 110-meter hurdles after qualifying for Saturday’s finals on Thursday.
Swift ran a time of 13.51 seconds to take third in his heat. He’ll run in either lane 1 or lane 8 on Saturday.
“I got out pretty good and then I hurdled three or four when I got bumped and it threw me off my rhythm,” said Swift, a native of Barbados. “I tried to get back my rhythm … but I held on for the third place.”
ISU's Manaea selected 34th overall by Royals
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea selected 34th overall by the Kansas City Royals.
Sycamores ready for more NCAA track success
Five of the six Indiana State athletes in Eugene, Ore., already have had some memorable track and field careers for the Sycamores.
But they’ll go ahead and try to add to their list of accomplishments in the NCAA outdoor championships this weekend.
Dustin Betz has been a scorer and key piece of eight Missouri Valley Conference championship teams between track and cross country. He’ll compete today in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as the Sycamores’ second best in the event behind Jordan Fife.
Mike Lucas joins ISU football staff
What traits do head football coaches seek out when they hire position coaches?
Indiana State football coach Mike Sanford provided insight into that question as he hired former Southeast Louisiana head coach Mike Lucas to his staff Tuesday. Lucas will be the Sycamores’ defensive line coach.
“You have to look at your staff and see what you need. I felt like in this particular case, I wanted an experienced defensive line coach. I feel like we have a mixture of experience and youth and I want to keep that going,” Sanford said.
TODD GOLDEN: MVC Tourney can be ISU success story if work is done
Prior to last week’s Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament at Illinois State’s Duffy Bass Field, fear and loathing prevailed in some corners of the conference.
It seemed that Missouri State, Creighton, and most notably, Wichita State, had a monopoly on the season-ending tournament since the Coolidge Administration. (It had actually been since 1998.) How could the tournament make it without playing in one of the three aforementioned universities’ big venues?
- COLLEGE REPORT: Wabash College All-American relay team has TH flavor
Six Sycamores heading to NCAA Track and Field championships
Three Indiana State seniors and a freshman punched their tickets Friday to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in two weeks at Eugene, Ore. Two more got the job done Saturday on the campus of UNC Greensoboro in the East Preliminary.
Sycamores bow out of MVC Tournament
Indiana State’s baseball was out of pitching, and after a loss to Wichita State on Thursday, the Sycamores were out of second-chances too at the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament. What the Sycamores weren’t out of was heart, guts and clutch performances from some unlikely sources. But in the end, Friday’s elimination game rematch against the Shockers was a sampling of ISU’s season overall — the Sycamores were out of luck.
Metro Sports: Chalk up No. 5 for Liz Evans
Senior Liz Evans capped the top career in Rose-Hulman athletics history with her fifth national championship and eighth All-American award at Wisconsin-La Crosse on Friday.
Four Indiana State athletes advance to NCAA outdoor track and field championships
Three Indiana State seniors and a freshman have punched their tickets to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in two weeks at Eugene, Ore., with their Friday efforts in the 2013 NCAA East Preliminary at Aggie Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T.
Wichita State shuts out ISU to force elimination-game rematch
Indiana State starting pitcher Greg Kuhlman did his best.
Actually, he did far better than he ever has previously in an ISU uniform, but while Kuhlman’s gutty pitching effort spoke volumes, ISU’s bats remained ominously silent.
Indiana State baseball now one win from MVC Championship
Indiana State’s Wednesday morning wish list probably read something like this: a dominant complete game effort from starting pitcher Devin Moore, near-immaculate defense to support him, and a steady diet of clutch situational hitting from lineup spots one to nine.
Terre Haute's Mascari running 10,000 meters for chance to get to Hayward Field
Indiana State freshman and Terre Haute North graduate John Mascari is among the enormous group of Sycamores competing this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary. The top 48 NCAA track and field competitors in each event on this half of the United States are narrowed down to 12 who will compete at the NCAA meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Manaea's shoulder causing him latest pain
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea has battled through so many aches and pains during the 2013 season that it can be hard to discern the serious pain from the pain he pitches through.
ISU's Negele answers call in big way in wake of Manaea injury
When Indiana State starting pitcher Sean Manaea slumped on the mound in obvious pain after he took his warm-up pitches, red flags raised for ISU’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament hopes.
ISU baseball hoping Manaea can get its MVC Tournament moving in right direction
Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
But this is the 2013 Sycamores, after all, and after a season in which seemingly little has gone right, it appears its stars will remain crossed at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU track sending record 22 to postseason
On the heels of their thrilling double victory at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships both the Indiana State men and women moved up in the national rankings which were released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
ISU's athletic treasure trove
Think of every championship that Indiana State has won in each of its sports, past and present. Think of every tournament — postseason or regular season — which the Sycamores have claimed as their own.
Ort sets ISU RBI record in 16-7 win
Robby Ort celebrated his Indiana State baseball Senior Day on Saturday by becoming the Sycamores’ all-time leader in RBIs as ISU ended its regular season with a 16-7 win over Bradley at Bob Warn Field.
Bradley ends 16-game MVC losing streak against ISU
Momentum was the only thing riding on Indiana State’s baseball game against Bradley on Friday. With a five-game winning streak going, ISU wanted to keep the good vibes going into next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU couldn’t do it.
- More College Headlines
- DeNato proves IU can pitch too