FCS 1st Round Playoffs: Illinois State Uses James Robinson’s Record Setting Day to Defeat Southeast Missouri State, 24-6

Illinois State RB ran for a career and MVFC Playoff record 297 to lead Illinois State to a 24-6 win over Southeast Missouri State in the first round of the FCS Playoffs. (Courtesy of ISU Athletics)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.– Illinis State RB James Robinson rushed for a career high 297 yards on 41 carries to help defeat Southeast Missouri State 24-6 on Saturday in a first-round FCS playoff game. The 297 yards set a school and Missouri Valley Football Conference record for a playoff performance.

Robinson moved past the 4,000-yard mark for his career and did most of his damage in the first half for Illinois State (9-4). He racked up 144 yards in the first quarter and had 188 on 22 carries at halftime.

“I knew coming into the game we were going to run the ball,” Robinson said. “Not that I expected (41 carries), but you’ve got to be ready for that stuff and I was.”

Robinson got the day started well in the Redbirds first possession. He had 78 rushing yards–the entire total of a 73-yard (5 yards added due to a false start call) and the final 11 yards went for the game’s opening touchdown to put ISU up 7-0.

After a 45-yard field goal by Southeast Missouri State (9-4) PK Kendrick Tiller late in the first quarter, the Redbirds marched 68 yards in 12 plays on their next possesion that went into the second quarter.

Making his first career start, redshirt freshman QB Bryce Jefferson took a draw 16 yards up the middle into the end zone at the 14:04 mark of the second quarter to put the Redbirds up 14-3 with 14:04 left in the first half.

Jefferson followed that drive with a 33-yard connection to WR Andrew Edgar for a touchdown with 1:25 in the second quarter in what would be the final score before the halftime break which ISU led 21-3.

Both teams each managed a single field goal in the second half for the 24-6 final margin.

“I’m really proud of our team. We played a field position game and ran the football well, which you have to do in the playoffs,” said Illinois State Coach Brock Spack. “I was impressed with our defense. That team is very explosive, particularly through the air.”

Redhawk QB Daniel Santacaterina did not start because of foot and shoulder injuries. Instead, Joe Pyle started for SEMO and completed 9 of 17 passes for 124 yards. Santacateina entered in the second half and was 8 of 13 of 81 yards but was intercepted twice.

Jefferson completed just four passes for 52 yards. He added of 20 yards net on the ground for the Redbirds.

The Redbirds held a 392-314 edge in total offense with 340 coming on the ground.

“When you run the ball when everybody in the stadium knows you’re going to run it, that’ s even more impressive,” said Spack.

Illinois State moves on to face #8 seed Central Arkansas next week. The Redbirds lost last year in the opening round of the FCS playoffs to UCA and next week will get a chance to avenge that loss.