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ISU Redbirds Sweep Dayton to Start Off Season

Written by on September 5, 2023

The Illinois State Redbirds could not have had a much better start to their season as they defeated the Dayton Flyers 41-0. It was an impressive performance in all aspects of the game for Brock Spack’s team. The team combined for 280 passing yards, 193 passing yards, and no points allowed.

Senior Zack Annexstad had a great start to his season. The Minnesota native went 23/30, 255 passing yards, and one passing touchdown. Annexstad looked very poised in the pocket as the pressure Dayton sent did not phase him.

The Sophomore who led the team in receiving yards last season ran a perfect streak which gave him some separation from the cornerback. Annexstad then threw a dot which landed perfectly in Sohowicz’s hands in the endzone. The Senior Quarterback explained in the press conference that he had a lot of belief in his Sophomore Wide Receiver.

“He’s a great kid,” Annexstad said. “He’s made big improvements. He was a really good player last season. He got even better this off season. He got bigger, faster, and stronger. I’m just excited to see him keep going and keep getting better. I’m excited to see his future”.

The running game was also fantastic for the Redbirds. Everyone in the running back committee and some got attempts at running the ball as the team saw seven different players attempt a rush today. Mason Blakemore had the biggest run of the day when he took his second carry for 71 yards and a touchdown. Wenkers Wright had a 48 yard run that was just short of being a touchdown. He would get his touchdown later in the game. Cole Muller had the feel good story of the day when he scored a touchdown in his first game back from injury; an injury he suffered in the first game of last season.

The defense was able to shut out the Flyers; forcing seven punts, two missed field goals, a fumble, and a turnover on downs. Lineback Tye Niekamp made his first collegiate appearance and put on a show as he recorded nine tackles and a sack.

Junior Amir Abduallah recorded eight tackles and a sack.

This was a defensive performance that Coach Spack was impressed by. He lost eight defensive starters this offseason and it looked like the defense hadn’t lost a step. Coach Spack explained how the defense was able to perform so well today.

“Number one, they’re really good kids,” Spack said. “They know that there’s a tradition that’s been built here since 2011. We’ve been pretty good on defense. It’s just the next guy up. It’s your turn and you don’t want to be the one to screw it up. There’s pressure with that. I had a player come into my office the other day. He talked about, “I’m replacing this guy and he was so good.” I said, “You’re fine. Worry about you. Just be you.” He ended up playing very well today”.

Coach Spack and the Redbirds will look to carry this momentum into Saturday when they travel to Hanson Field to take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks.