TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State makes its first road trip of the 2021 season as the Sycamores make the trek to Evanston, Ill. and Northwestern University for a noon ET kickoff at Ryan Field. The game will be carried live on the Big Ten Network and 105.5 The Legend.
Game Day Information and Activities
Alumni Association and Sycamore Athletics to host September 11 pregame tailgate at Northwestern
Make your plans now to join the Indiana State University Alumni Association and Sycamore Athletics for a tailgate prior to the 11 a.m. CT kickoff between Indiana State and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
The tailgate is set to run from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. CT on the patio of the Canal Shores Golf Course and has been sponsored in part by Sycamore alum Tim Swanson ‘(91, GR ’00) and Meade. Breakfast will be served with a full bar available. Paid, on-site parking is available at first-come, first-serve basis for the tailgate and football game.
The cost of an individual lunch ticket is $20. Registration is required to attend. Click Here to Register Now
Northwestern Clear Bag Policy
Northwestern Athletics has instituted a Clear Bag Policy for the 2021-22 year at Ryan Field. Click here for more information
Game Notes of Interest
First Time Matchup
Indiana State started playing football in the 1896 season. Northwestern started playing football in 1882. Despite there being less than 200 miles distance between the two institutions, Saturday marks the first contest between the two teams in their respective program histories.
Continuing the Winning Streak
Indiana State will look to continue their three-game winning streak dating back to the final two games of the 2019 season. The Sycamores wrapped up the 2019 season with back-to-back wins over Youngstown State and Missouri State to put their streak at two consecutive games. After not playing in the 2020 season, ISU opened up 2021 with a Week 0 win over Eastern Illinois at Memorial Stadium, 26-21.
Thomas Defensive Player of the Week
Junior safety Michael Thomas utilized two interceptions, including a key 75-yard pick-six to secure Indiana State’s 26-21 win over Eastern Illinois in the opener. Thomas’s success parlayed into earning the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in the 2021 season.
Saturday afternoon marks the first time Indiana State and Northwestern have lined up against each other in their respective program histories. The Wildcats are the lone FBS team Indiana State will line up against in the 2021 season, while ISU is the lone FCS program Northwestern will face this fall.
Northwestern played a shortened 2020 season due to COVID concerns, but wrapped up ninth winning season in Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s 15-year coaching career with a 7-2 mark, 6-1 in Big Ten play. The Wildcats opened the season with five consecutive wins and added wins against Illinois and Auburn (Citrus Bowl) to cap off a strong season.
Northwestern was selected to finish third overall in the Big Ten West Division as announced by the conference earlier in the preseason. The Wildcats received 160 points overall in finishing behind Wisconsin and Iowa in the conference’s preseason recognition. The Wildcats returned a number of key players to the roster this season including preseason All-Americans Brandon Joseph (safety) and Peter Skoronski (offensive line), while 15 players overall were honored among the preseason all-conference teams and various award watchlists.
Joseph headed into his sophomore season after an accolade-filled 2020 that included earning recognition on two All-American teams, while also being named the AP Big Ten Newcomer of the Year. The safety recorded 52 career tackles and six interceptions in his first collegiate season, including a pair of interceptions in a comeback win over Iowa.
Skoronski also headed into his sophomore season with a pair of preseason All-American honors, while sitting on the Outland Trophy Watch List. He was rated the Pro Football Focus highest-graded true-first year in the Big Ten among all positions and helped Northwestern average 360.7 yards per game in 2020.
Thompson at the Reins
Quarterback Anthony Thompson improved to 1-0 in his first collegiate start at Indiana State as the redshirt-senior quarterback took a majority of the snaps under center in the opener against Eastern Illinois. The Chicago, Ill. native went 13-of-23 through the air for 87 yards and targeted four different receivers in his first game action in the Sycamores’ opener against the Panthers. Thompson added five carries to help supplement the rushing efforts.
Hendrix sets the Indiana State Record
Redshirt junior wide receiver Dante Hendrix set a new Indiana State record with a reception in 22 consecutive games surpassing the mark established by Robert Tonyan, Jr. (2015-16). Anthony Thompson connected on an eight-yard out-route patter with Hendrix near the left sideline on the first offensive play of the 2021 season to establish a new record and continue the streak started on the second game of the 2018 season against Louisville.
Wide Receiver corps showcasing its depth
Indiana State’s wide receiver corps continues to showcase its depth this season beyond Hendrix. Rontrez Morgan and Daijon Collins also return with heavy game experience throughout their careers, while Noah Ellison added a target in the game for the Sycamores. Morgan paced all players in the opener against Eastern Illinois with six catches for 26 yards and will continue to expect a heavy share of targets when the Sycamores take to the air this season.
Haupert is a Jack-of-all-Trades
Michael Haupert made the most of his limited snaps at the quarterback position in the opener against Eastern Illinois. The redshirt sophomore went untouched with a 44-yard touchdown run as the Fort Wayne, Ind. native took the direct snap all the way for the opening score in the third quarter to put Indiana State ahead 17-7. He finished the day with five carries for 59 yards and a score in the Sycamores win.
Larkin at Tight End…Wide Receiver…Quarterback…Everywhere
Zach Larkin continues to make his impact all over the field as the Hamilton, Ohio native lined up at multiple offensive positions on the field against Eastern Illinois. Larkin served as the team’s primary option in the short-yardage game with one carry for two yards, while also adding one catch for two yards in the win over the Panthers. He continues to be a threat at multiple positions after transitioning from quarterback to tight end in 2017.
Herrin Grades it Out
Left tackle Carter Herrin was the top-rated offensive lineman for the Indiana State offense in the 2021 opener against Eastern Illinois as recognized by offensive coordinator Michael Switzer. Herrin graded out at 88% in the opening weekend in the trenches against the Panthers and added two knockdown blocks in posting the team’s winning grade. Herrin earned the start at left tackle in the opener and helped pave the way for the team to post 158 rushing yards in the contest.
Isaiah Edwards is a man among boys and he is joined by center Alvin Clemons and right guard Jose Vazquez IV in putting nearly 1,000 pounds of muscle in the middle of the Indiana State line. Edwards, Clemons, and Vazquez join with Carter Herrin as one of the most experienced offensive lines in the MVFC this season. Edwards was a preseason All-MVFC honorable mention selection and has started all 15 games he has dressed out in his Indiana State career.
Michael Thomas earns MVFC Defensive Player of the Week honors
Michael Thomas took the inaugural MVFC Defensive Player of the Week honors from the conference office as announced this past Sunday. Thomas paced the Sycamores with 10 tackles (seven solo) in the contest and added two interceptions in ISU’s 26-21 win over Eastern Illinois. Thomas stepped in front of an EIU pass at the end of the first half to set up a late field goal attempt. He added a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter that changed the momentum of the game and set up the ISU win.
Came in like a Wrecking Ball
Defensive end Inoke Moala picked right back where he left off in the opening game of the 2021 season. The redshirt senior from Mishiwaka, Ind. native posted two sacks against Eastern Illinois and added two more quarterback hurries while consistently sitting in the backfield against the Panthers this season. Moala posted his first sack of the season on EIU’s opening possession to force an early Panthers punt. He added late pressure in the contest and forced the game-ending safety in the end zone to cap the Sycamores 26-21 win. Moala currently leads the MVFC with two sacks and is among the conference’s leaders with two tackles for loss through the first game of the season.
Ending Opponent Drives
Indiana State entered the 2021 season as one of the nation’s stingiest defenses after finishing among the FCS best in ending opponent’s drives on third down. The Sycamores continued that dominant trend in the opener against Eastern Illinois allowing the Panthers to record first downs on just 30.8% of their attempts in the opener. Indiana State surrendered just four conversions on third down in stifling the Eastern Illinois offense in the game.
Taking the Air Out
The Indiana State pass defense sits among the best in FCS in the turnover margin in the opening game of the 2021 season. The Sycamores not only recorded a pair of interceptions in the pass game, but Indiana State also forced a fumble in the contest on a pass over the middle to end another Eastern Illinois drive in the win. Indiana State was consistently in the backfield in the game with five sacks and nine tackles for loss and currently sits 29th in FCS in team passing efficiency defense at 107.77.
Tackles For Loss
Indiana State’s defense put together one of the best opening weekends across the country with eight different players finding their way into the backfield for a takedown in the win over Eastern Illinois. Inoke Moala headlined the group with two TFLs in the opening weekend, while Geoffrey Brown added 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack against the Panthers. Heath Stephen II, Kris Reid Jr., Kelvin Broom Jr., Ty Hambright, Kaleb Brewer, and Dayveon Higgs also recorded tackles in the backfield on their way to highlighting the opening game of the season.
Reiner Spots the Ball
Travis Reiner averaged 37.9 yards per punt in the contest, but saved his best of the game for last with a 49-yard attempt that was downed at the EIU 7 late in the fourth quarter. Reiner put together seven punts on the day resulting in two fair catches with one downed inside the 20-yard line. Reiner continued to be one of the most technical punters in the MVFC with 39 punts downed inside the 20 in the last two seasons.
Alan Selzer made the most of his first field goal in the 2021 season with a 48-yard field goal to put the Sycamores ahead 10-0 in the second quarter. The redshirt senior kicker spent two seasons at the University of Michigan and added a 40-yard attempt just before the end of the first half. He was a perfect 3-for-3 in extra points in the Sycamores’ win.
Follow the Sycamores
For the latest information on Sycamore Football, visit GoSycamores.com. You can also find the team on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Fans can also receive updates on Sycamore Athletics by downloading the March On App from the both the App Store and the Google Play Store.
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