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Redbird - Websites & News

Here is the Sports Network previous game preview when the game was scheduled for Sept 25th.

Illinois State (2-1) at Florida Atlantic (3-0), 4:00

Florida Atlantic has suddenly become the media darling in I-A football. With longtime Miami and Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger at the helm, the Owls have already won on the road at Hawaii, North Texas and Middle Tennessee State. The Redbirds could also look back to last year, when the Owls made the I-AA semifinals, to recognize how good Florida Atlantic can be. Last season, the Owls won at Hancock Stadium, 28-10. The Redbirds played well in a loss at Minnesota, so they have already proven capable against I-A competition. All the statistics for the teams are close, but Florida Atlantic has played a tougher schedule and has the overall edge against Illinois State. Prediction: Florida Atlantic 34, Illinois State 24

Interesting how this game all of a sudden looks like a much different match-up.

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Panthers pounce on 'struggling' Redbirds

By Randy Reinhardt
[email protected]

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – To be quite honest, Northern Iowa linebacker Brett Koebcke was lying down on the job.
Yet when John Hermann tipped a Yance Vaughan pass high into the circulated UNI-Dome air Saturday, Koebcke had an interception literally fall into his lap.

Six plays later, Illinois State had run two plays and Northern Iowa had celebrated two touchdowns.

The Redbirds' trip to the Hawkeye State got no more pleasant as red-hot Northern Iowa scorched ISU for a 41-14 Gateway Conference victory before a crowd of 9,569.

"We weren't competitive. That's disappointing to me. This is the first time this year we weren't competitive," said ISU coach Denver Johnson. "We're a struggling team right now. Blame it on me. We were not ready to play at this level tonight."

The Panthers reeled off 24 first-quarter points while improving to 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the Gateway Conference with their fifth straight win.

"We came out a focused football team. That's the way we've been playing the last month," UNI coach Mark Farley said. "We were hitting offense, defense and special teams on all cylinders."

ISU (4-6, 2-5) dropped its third consecutive game and saw hopes for a winning season vanish. The Redbirds close their season next Saturday at Florida Atlantic.

Northern Iowa needed a mere five plays to cover 62 yards on the game's first possession. Terrance Freeney rushed 20 yards for the touchdown and Brian Wingert booted the extra point.

After Koebcke's interception, the Panthers got a 4-yard scoring pass from freshman quarterback Eric Sanders to Freeney on third-and-goal. Sanders released the ball just before being sacked by ISU end Nate Johnson.

"Being so close to making a huge play is frustrating," said the Redbird redshirt freshman. "It took us a little while to get our engine started. They outcompeted us."

Northern Iowa got Patrick Hunter behind the Redbird defense for a 74-yard touchdown strike from Sanders and led 21-0 at the 6:35 mark of the first quarter.

"They stunned us. They hit us between the eyes with a blackjack," Coach Johnson said. "They were playing very inspired football. They were running hard and hitting hard. They were on a mission. I didn't know if we were ever going to get a knot tied in it."

The first of three Dre Dokes interceptions led to a 44-yard Wingert field goal, and the Panthers extended their advantage to 31-0 when Richard Carter took a pitch right 33 yards untouched into the end zone.

"The No. 1 thing we talk about in practice is making plays," Dokes said. "The line got their hands on some balls to help us out."

ISU did march 88 yards for points late in the first half. Vaughan found Laurent Robinson on a 6-yard touchdown connection with 1:52 showing.

Vaughan completed 17 of 38 passes for 168 yards and four interceptions.

"Some misfortunes that usually don't happen, happened today. Everything that could happen bad, did," Vaughan said. "We had a lot of bad luck, but we had some missed assignments as well. We haven't executed."

Northern Iowa moved to a 41-7 lead in the third quarter on a 2-yard Reggie Brown touchdown run and a 19-yard Wingert field goal.

Sanders threw just 14 passes but completed 10 for 165 yards while also rushing for 39 yards. Freeney led all rushers with 84 yards on 21 attempts.

"He was a real shifty quarterback," said Nate Johnson. "It seemed like most of the time he wanted to run himself."

ISU senior linebacker Boomer Grigsby had 10 tackles to move his career total to 580 and break Galen Scott's school record of 579.

The Redbirds matched the score of last week's loss to Southern Illinois on a 3-yard TD pass from Vaughan to Pierre Jackson with three seconds left.

ISU was held to a season-low 235 yards of total offense.

"There are a lot of good things happening with our defense," Farley said. "We're creating big plays with our aggressiveness."

The Redbirds did have a small reason to smile early in the fourth quarter. After Ryan Arnold blocked a Ryan Hoffman punt, a Northern Iowa player mishandled the football and ISU retained possession when Earl Newby recovered the loose ball.

ISU's Alex Filin later blocked a Northern Iowa punt.
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Redbird - Websites & News

More Useless News:

The Redbirds (4-6, 2-5) are still searching for their first road win of the season as they currently stand 0-5 away from Hancock Stadium.
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I am pretty familiar with ISU. They like to throw the ball and they have a great middle linebacker that will be productive at the next level. They should have problems against FAU's speed and they are proven to be vulnerable against the pass. Last week, Southern Illinois, a power running team ranked #1 in 1-AA passed all over ISU for a 41-14 victory. If the O-line can hold up, I like the Owls big in this one. 38-17. GO OWLS!!!

You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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Yance gets his chance

ISU quarterback makes most of only season as starter

By Randy Reinhardt
[email protected]

NORMAL – Yance Vaughan had the respect of his Illinois State football teammates before taking his first snap as a starting quarterback in early September.
Vaughan was the Redbirds' perpetual back up quarterback. For four years, Vaughan practiced as if he was going to play the upcoming Saturday even though he seldom did.

Vaughan stuck it out. And that's exactly what he's doing now.

Finally ascending to the starting position as a fifth-year senior, Vaughan is pushing to the finish off a successful season despite several injuries that have been pushing and pulling at his body.

"I've always loved the game of football. I still loved it being a back up," Vaughan said. "I kind of felt like in the past I wasn't able to help my teammates on Saturday, but in other ways I was."

The native of Ada, Okla., has completed 193 of 374 passes for a Gateway Conference-leading 2,316 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 4-6 Redbirds who wrap up their season Saturday against Florida Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale.

"Our goal was to win the Gateway and get to the playoffs and that is not going to be the case," said Vaughan. "Honestly, with all the guys I came in with and all these coaches I care about so much, I would give up playing my senior year just to get that Gateway championship and get into the playoffs.

"The wins are not there so it definitely outweighs my personal goals of getting to play."

Merely playing has become a chore for Vaughan. The Vaughan entry on Coach Denver Johnson's injury report is "four lines deep now. Elbow, rotator cuff, knee, turf toe," said Johnson.

Vaughan, who initially hurt his elbow in practice two days before the Oct. 23 win over Youngstown State, will do no more than acknowledge, "I still think I can play better even though I'm banged up."

Johnson does see a difference from the Vaughan who passed for 372 yards against Minnesota early in the season.

"I think it's absolutely fair to say it's affected his performance," the ISU coach said of his quarterback's ailments.

"I don't think there's any question about it. I admire him for not leaning on that. He's not one to make excuses. None of us want to make excuses, but there is a difference between reasons and excuses."

Still, the 6-foot-3, 210-poundVaughan has extracted enough from his long-awaited shot at the field to rank second in ISU history for passing yards in a season and third in touchdown passes.

Redbird All-America linebacker Boomer Grigsby is delighted to see Vaughan thrive.

"It means the world to me," Grigsby said. "We came on our (recruiting) visit here together. We roomed together and have a great friendship that will continue throughout life. To see him succeed and become a starter and wait it out that long shows an incredible amount of character and persistence."

Vaughan learned football from a former NFL player, his father Mike, who was an All-America offensive tackle at Oklahoma and played for the New York Giants.

"My dad and I are real close. We talk almost every day," said Yance. "I grew up around football. Every Friday and Saturday we were going to a high school game or Oklahoma game. He's really helped with words of wisdom.

"He's been through a lot of situations in his athletic career. There are not many things he didn't face or know a teammate or coach he could relate it to."

"Yance has always been a very good, competitive football player. He's a pretty tough young man," Mike Vaughan said. "He's always had the inner talent, the heart and desire to be a guy who leads. He wants to win and he'll do what it takes to get there."

Mike Vaughan recognizes his passion for football in his only son.

"It's part of his life. He likes to study it," said the elder Vaughan. "It's always been that way. I brought that to him early and I guess it carried over in his mind and his heart."

One thing Johnson will never question is Vaughan's heart.

"I think the guy's a warrior. He's a lot of the reason why our kids hang in there the fourth quarter," said the ISU coach. "He's always had our respect and our ambitions, but he's really earned our trust. We trust him with the ballgame.

"I could not be prouder of any kid I've ever coached than Yance. He's paid some dues and endured some real frustrations and is making the most of it now."

As chances for a comeback victory slipped away last Saturday in a 41-14 loss to Northern Iowa, Johnson could have brought in second string quarterback Luke Drone late in the game. Instead, the ISU coach decided to let a banged-up Vaughan finish what he waited so long to start.

"I think he's earned that right. I really do. I'm not going to pull him," Johnson said. "I respect that guy a bunch. I think he deserves to hurt as bad as he's willing to hurt."

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'Birds high-Powered offense takes the field one last time

By Steven Wartman
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The ISU offense has racked up more than 3000 total yards this season, averaging more than 300 yards per game. They will take the field for the final time this Saturday when the Redbirds travel to Florida Atlantic, a game originally scheduled for Sept. 25 but delayed due to Hurricane Jeanne.

Quarterback Yance Vaughan will also conclude his Redbird career this Saturday.

The senior, who did not gain the starting job until this season, has had an impressive year. Vaughan has thrown for 2,316 yards and 14 touchdowns this season while keeping the passing offense on top of the Gateway conference for most of the year.

He now stands second in the Redbird record books for most passing yards in a single season.

Vaughan recently talked about the feeling entering into his final game as a college player this Saturday as well as his performance throughout the season.

"Leadership is a great quality I've learned playing quarterback in high school and college," Vaughan said. "Coach Fuente harnessed a lot of leadership skills out of me this year.

Whatever I continue to do in my future, I find myself taking control of the group."

Vaughan, however, is still disappointed that ISU was not able to bring home more victories this season that might have allowed them to still be in contention for a playoff bid.

"Our record is the most important thing in football," Vaughan said. "Our goal is to win games, win the Gateway conference, and get into the playoffs. That's not going to be the case. I wanted to play my senior year to get that Gateway championship and get into the playoffs. The wins are just not there."

While the offense has produced high numbers all year, a streak will likely be coming to a close this season. Denver Johnson has had a 1,000-yard rusher on each ISU team he has coached in the past years. Brian Thompson and Demetrus Johnson have rushed for 1285 yards combined, but neither one has an individual total over 700.

Thompson would have to rush for an unprecedented 366 yards this Saturday to keep the winning streak alive.

Sophomore Laurent Robinson, ISU's top receiver this year, will look to add to his 439 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season in hopes of an all-conference bid. Ramon Barber and freshman Kevett Mickle have also been leaders in the Redbirds receiving core as well.

Junior linebacker Shomari Earls has been the force on defense this season for Florida Atlantic, totaling 69 tackles total. Fellow linebacker Chris Laskowski has collected 66 tackles this season as well.

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Grigsby ends his collegiate career this weekend at FAU

By Steven Wartman
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Consensus All-American and two-time Gateway conference Defensive Player of the Year Boomer Grigsby, the most decorated athlete in ISU history, will lead the defense on the field for the final time in his collegiate career this Saturday when the Redbirds head south to take on Florida Atlantic.

"You get so accustomed to life in one way that you never realize it's coming to a close," Grigsby said. "I don't really think you can even truly comprehend it until it's over with. I don't feel any different this Tuesday than I have any other Tuesday on my career. I can't really imagine it being my last game and as much as I'd like to be able to harness that feeling I don't think I'll be able to comprehend it until the game is over."

Grigsby entered this season on pace to capture both the Gateway and school records for most career tackles.

He has accomplished both feats in the past two weeks against Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa. Grigsby now has 580 in his career, which is also an NCAA-IAA record.

"In the classroom they teach us to get ready for the world and our jobs," Grigsby said.

"Well, college football teaches us about reality. It has its ups and downs. Its' friendships and even its rivalries teach us so much about life. It's a rocky road but it's one I wish everyone had a chance to participate in. Obviously I feel like we're the lucky ones for being able to do that."

Boomer leads the Gateway conference this season with 129 tackles, averaging 12.9 per game. Strangely enough his tackle total in this his record-breaking season will be his lowest since freshman year. Grigsby had 179 tackles in each of the last two seasons.

Part of that could be contributed to the stellar play of fellow linebacker Cameron Siskowic. The sophomore transfer has averaged 8.1 tackles per game which ranks ninth in the conference this season.

Freshman linebackers Jesse Caesar, Kye Stewart, and Nick Passarelli have all stepped up big this season. Along with Grigsby and Siskowic, the linebacker position has arguably been the Redbirds' most solid spot all year.

The Redbird defense will face a pass-prone offense in FAU this weekend. However, the Owls are playing without their top weapon. Tight end Anthony Crissinger-Hill, who had 746 yards receiving and five touchdowns this season, was suspended for the remainder of the year on Nov.3 for conduct detrimental to the team. FAU quarterback Jared Allen is 130-for-221 passing this season with nine touchdowns. The Owls top rusher, Doug Parker, has ran for 798 yards and six touchdowns this year as well.
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My take: That's too bad for him. His final game in his senior year.

Grigsby to Sit Out Final Game

Linebacker Boomer Grigsby
Normal, Ill.– Illinois State senior linebacker Boomer Grigsby will not play in Saturday?s season finale against Florida Atlantic after undergoing surgery for a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee Wednesday.

The Canton, Ill., native will however, make the trip with the rest of the team this weekend. Grigsby, playing in his final game as a Redbird last Saturday against Northern Iowa, tallied 10 tackles, giving him 580 for his career and surpassing assistant coach Galen Scott?s school record of 579.

Grigsby was a four-year starter for the Redbirds after redshirting the 2000 season. Against No. 1 ranked Southern Illinois two weeks ago, he became the Gateway Football Conference?s all-time leading tackler, surpassing Eastern Illinois? Tim Carver when he tallied his 566th career tackle.

Grigsby, the two-time Gateway Defensive Player of the Year, leaves Illinois State as one of the most decorated athletes in school history along with the NCAA, Gateway and Redbird career tackle records.

Copyright ? 2003, Illinois State University. The team names, logos and uniform design are registerd trademarks of the teams indicated. No logos, photographs or graphics on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
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'Birds take the field for final 2004 game

By Steve Wartman
Published: Thursday, November 18, 2004

While the conference season is now completed and the Redbirds (4-6) are not in playoff contention, they will still try to salvage one more win this season when they travel down to Boca Raton, Fla. this Saturday to take on Florida Atlantic for the final contest of the year. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

This game was originally scheduled for Sept. but was postponed due to effects from the hurricane season.

Despite the disappointment ISU has suffered this season, head coach Denver Johnson reflected on the strong caliber of his team this past year.

"This is a special bunch," Johnson said. "This year there have been some frustrations, some disappointments. Other than the outcome of a handful of ballgames this has been a very rewarding, very fulfilling season for me as a head football coach."

ISU will also say goodbye to its senior class this weekend, as ISU's graduating members include some of the Redbirds most valuable assets on the field.

"[The senior class and myself] accomplished some things together," Johnson said. "The noteworthy thing we weren't able to do with this bunch was win a conference championship. I'm certainly regretful of that. But people make places and these guys have really made this a special place. We'll always remember this bunch and miss them."

One senior who will not take the field this weekend is All-American Boomer Grigsby. The team released that Grigsby will not play this weekend after having surgery on a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee yesterday.
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