News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

September 19, 2011

Bell draws inspiration from fallen ‘brother’

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — For Indiana State running back Shakir Bell, fellow running back George Cheeseborough isn’t just a teammate.

“Cheese is more than a friend, he’s like my brother,” Bell said.

So when Cheeseborough went down and had to be taken to the hospital after suffering a crushing double-hit by Western Kentucky’s Bar’ee Boyd and J.T. Smith on the opening kickoff Saturday, it hit Bell more so than it did his other teammates. It stands to reason, given that Bell and Cheeseborough were teammates at Warren Central High School.

“My physicality and the physicality of the offense came from when George went down early. After he went down, that hit me hard. I felt like I had to run for both of us,” Bell said.

Bell certainly had the production of two backs … and then some. Bell rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns in ISU’s 44-16 victory over WKU.

It was the fifth-best rushing performance in ISU history, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon for both ISU’s offense and Bell. ISU’s running game was inconsistent in the first two weeks against Penn State and Butler. Bell himself had his carries slashed when he fumbled early in the Butler game.

But Bell showed renewed vigor, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. The lightning-quick 5-foot-8 back was dangerous as usual outside the tackles, taking advantage of an overpursuing WKU defense to break large gains.

But Bell was also stout inside the tackles, an element to his running game he hasn’t always thrived at. Bell’s breakthrough 46-yard touchdown run in the second quarter came when he powered his way past left guard Ben Geffert.

“We wanted to show everybody that no matter what division you’re in, there’s always a team that will work hard and be more physical,” Bell said.

Cheeseborough released from hospital — Cheeseborough has been released from The Medical Center in Bowling Green, according to ISU coach Trent Miles.

Miles said Sunday evening that Cheeseborough had no broken bones. He was feeling soreness in his neck and some tingling, but was otherwise OK. He will have an MRI early this week.

Cheeseborough had a similar injury in April, which caused the sophomore to miss about half of spring practice.

Fouch, Hilton relish single coverage — Bell’s rushing performance slightly overshadowed a second straight strong performance from Indiana State’s passing game.

Quarterback Ronnie Fouch was 14 of 24 for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Justin Hilton was the primary beneficiary, with six catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

In preparation for the game, both Fouch and Hilton noticed in film study that WKU would often leave receivers in single coverage. Nothing changed Saturday, so Fouch decided to take advantage. He hit Hilton for a 70-yard bomb in the first quarter that got the Sycamores going.

“Their [defensive backs] were very aggressive. We wanted to bring them up with short passes and then take them over the top,” Fouch said.

Hilton credited ISU’s occasional no-huddle offense for creating chances.

“We wanted to quick-game them because they were running a lot of cover-4 [four deep defenders playing zone]. But for the most part, they were squatting eight to 10 yards off the line and we just ran by them,” Hilton said.

Little finds range — Before Saturday’s game, the longest field goal Cory Little had converted was 32 yards.

Like many other Sycamores, Little saved his best for WKU. The sophomore from Poseyville made three field goals, all longer than his previous best. Little converted from 43, 42 and 35 yards. He also converted all of his extra points.

ISU also debuted baseball player Lucas Hileman as punter. Hileman averaged 39.4 yards per punt, with a long of 50 yards.

Reaction from WKU — The loss to the Sycamores, a team WKU dominated when both were Gateway Football Conference foes, was treated grimly in Bowling Green.

The headline on the Bowling Green Daily News web site decried a “Syc-kening loss.” Two words led beat writer Chad Bishop’s game story: “Rock. Bottom.”

WKU’s move to FBS football, initiated in 2006, has been rocky. WKU lost its 17th consecutive game at home, a skid that dates to the 2008 season. ISU was the second FBS team WKU has lost to at home during its slide (Central Arkansas won there in 2009). It was ISU’s first win in Bowling Green since 1994.

WKU coach Wille Taggert was searching for answers in the aftermath.

“To put it all in a nutshell, we’re not fundamentally sound right now. That’s what’s getting us beat,” Taggert told the Bowling Green Daily News.

Taggert’s play-calling was called into question by some WKU observers after the game for being overly conservative. Running back Bobby Rainey — a 3,000-yard career rusher — had 105 yards, but broke only one long run and was never a factor despite WKU’s reliance on him.

Getting paid? ISU coach Trent Miles had complained in the runup to the WKU game that ISU wasn’t getting paid to visit Houchens-Smith Stadium. This was a result of a Homecoming mix-up during the 2007 season when WKU departed the conference.

So after ISU’s first win over a FBS team since 2001 and its most highest point total since 1984 against a team from the higher division, was the victory worth more to the program than money can buy?

“Well yeah. But I want to get paid and win. Nothing wrong with that,” Miles jested.

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