News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 11, 2011

Indiana State offense sharp in win over Butler (related VIDEO)

TERRE HAUTE — After struggling to get any offensive traction in a loss at Penn State on Sept. 3, Indiana State’s offense wanted to establish some rhythm when Butler visited Memorial Stadium for ISU’s season opener.

The Sycamores did just that, not missing an offensive beat on their way to a 48-34 victory over the Bulldogs, but few would guessed that the man providing ISU with its rhythm is someone teased by his teammates for his lack of moves.

“I wanted to show the guys I could wiggle a bit. They always try to say that I’m stiff sometimes. I just wanted to let them know that was in the arsenal,” said Brock Lough, referring to a 45-yard touchdown run where he straddled the sideline, but a comment that also served to define his overall game on Saturday.

Lough, a fullback by trade, got a chance to play tailback when Shakir Bell and George Cheeseborough both had first quarter fumbles. Lough finished with 131 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns, including the aforementioned 45-yarder.

Lough exceeded his previous career ISU single-game high by 77 yards as he averaged 7.7 per carry.

“Coach [Trent] Miles wanted to give me the opportunity to carry the ball. I probably haven’t had that many opportunities since youth football,” Lough said. “I usually play a different part in the running game, but I was glad to get the opportunity and I tried to take advantage to the best of my ability.”

Overall, ISU rushed for 224 yards. That pleased Miles, who wanted to see ISU physically handle a team up front after being controlled by Penn State the previous week.

“We made no bones about it, we wanted to run the ball. We had two guys put the ball on the ground so it was time to give it to the big boy [Lough] and let him roll,” Miles said.

It wasn’t just Lough who had ISU’s offense moving. Quarterback Ronnie Fouch completed his first 10 pass attempts and finished with 232 yards and a touchdown. Fouch completed 15 of 18 passes.

ISU (1-1) needed its offense to shine as its defense was inconsistent (see related story). For one half, it appeared as if ISU would find itself in a shootout with Butler, a non-scholarship Division I team.

The Sycamores set the tone early. After the opening kickoff, ISU marched 67 yards in six plays and finished the drive with a two-yard plunge by defensive end and goal line back Ben Obaseki.

But Butler, expertly calling short passing plays to keep ISU’s defense off-balance, wasn’t fazed. It answered with a 10-play, 78-yard drive, finished off with some razzle-dazzle as running back Brandon Grubbe completed an option pass to Jeff Larsen for a 19-yard touchdown.

Butler (1-1) took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter after ISU gave the ball away on a fumble, but Leonard Riston immediately soothed the blow for ISU as he returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. Riston was hit at the 20-yard line, but rolled off the would-be tackle, cut right and went down the sideline unmolested.

“We really needed that boost. On that kick [the blocking] went opposite of where the kick was. I knew once I broke that tackle, it was wide open,” Riston explained.

It was ISU’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Cornell Johnson had a TD return against Texas Tech in 2005.

But once again, Butler had an answer. Quarterback Andrew Huck led a 6 minute, 49 second scoring drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Koopman. Butler led 17-14.

At this point, Miles handed the keys to Lough. On a 12-play, 79-yard scoring drive, Lough had 10 carries for 65 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:26 left in the half.

“I want to get Brock the ball as much as possible. He’s a big back and he ran well. He does so much for us. He blocks in the run game, he protects in the pass game and he can run the ball,” Miles said.

ISU led 21-17, but a late Butler drive got the Bulldogs within a point at halftime at 21-20.

But Butler’s hope was about to be snuffed out. ISU’s defense forced four three-and-out series for the Bulldogs and ISU’s offense never stopped cranking, which pleased the opening day crowd of 7,128.

Lough’s 45-yard touchdown began a 20-point third quarter for the Sycamores. Lough was actually contained on the play, but made it to the sideline and nimbly avoided Butler defenders and the sideline to get the touchdown.

Fouch also found Donald Spencer — making his ISU debut — for a 26-yard touchdown pass and Obaseki scored his second touchdown of the game late in the quarter to make it 41-20. Lough added one more TD in the final period to round out ISU’s scoring.

ISU did not punt in the game. It finished with 456 yards of total offense.

“You keep giving that offense opportunities … they’re explosive. They can run it, they can throw it vertical, we gave them too many opportunities too quickly,” Butler coach Jeff Voris said.

ISU had two known injuries. ISU linebacker Ryan Roberts suffered a concussion on Butler’s sixth play of the game after he collided with a teammate. Tight end Michael Mardis injured his ankle in the second half. He is expected to be OK, according to Miles.

ISU travels to Western Kentucky next Saturday. Game time is 7 p.m.

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