TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana State senior defensive back Johnny Towalid picked up three national honors while the Sycamores returned to both national Top 25 polls following the victory at North Dakota State on October 13.
Towalid was named the Co-National Defensive Player Of The Week By The Sports Network and was The National Defensive Performer Of The Week & National Defensive Back Of The Week as announced the College Football Performance Awards. He also was named a College Sporting News National All-Star.
He joins Shakir Bell, who picked up similar honors following his MVFC record setting performance of 349 rushing yards earlier this year against Drake.
Towalid set an Indiana State school record with two interception returns for a touchdown as the Sycamores took down No. 1 North Dakota State on the road in ISU's first-ever victory over a nationally top-ranked program. His pair of pick 6's tied the league and FCS record for a single-game. He is one of just 24 players all-time to record two interception returns for a touchdown in one game in the history of FCS football.
He scored both of the Sycamores' touchdowns at NDSU, including one in the second quarter of 27 yards to give ISU a 10-3 lead and then added another in the third quarter of 31 yards to stake the Sycamores to a 17-6 advantage. His first interception broke a string of 140 passes off the arm of Bison quarterback Brock Jensen without a pick.
His two touchdown returns gave him a tie for both the Indiana State school record of two in a season and combined with his 78-yard touchdown off an interception at South Dakota State last season gives him three for his career which ties that record as well. He is tied with John Karazsia for both of those records set from 1970-72.
Additionally, Connor Underwood received honorable mention plaudits from the College Football Performance Awards as National Linebacker Of The Week following his career-high 10 tackles and two quarterback sack performance at North Dakota State. Underwood was also named the MVFC Newcomer Of The Week.
The Sycamores ended their three-week absence from the national Top 25 polls as they returned at No. 21 in The Sports Network Poll and checked in at No. 25 in the FCS Coaches Poll. ISU was ranked in each of the first four weeks of the season in both polls. MVFC members North Dakota State (No. 4), Illinois State (No. 11), Youngstown State (No. 15), South Dakota State (No. 20) are all ranked by The Sports Network, while Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois are receiving votes. In the FCS Coaches Poll, the Sycamores are joined by North Dakota State (No. 4), Illinois State (No. 13) and Youngstown State (No. 16) while South Dakota State is also receiving votes.
Indiana State returns to action on Saturday, October 20 when they travel to Western Illinois (3-3, 1-2 MVFC) in a game that will be televised on a pay-per-view basis on GoSycamores.com . Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET).
Indiana State's 17-14 road victory over No. 1 North Dakota State was monumental in several ways for the Sycamores. It was the first-ever victory by an Indiana State football team over a program that was ranked first in the nation at the time of the contest in eight tries. It also marked the first victory for the Sycamores against a team ranked in the Top 5 nationally at the time of the game in 20 attempts. It was also the third consecutive road victory in MVFC play which is the longest such streak of success away from Memorial Stadium in conference action ever by the Sycamore program. The victory also broke a string of 10 consecutive wins for the Bison, who captured the FCS National Championship in 2011.
The Sycamores improved to a perfect 5-0 this season when leading after the third quarter as it held a 10-6 advantage heading into the final period and padded the lead with the second of Johnny Towalid's two interception returns for a touchdown as ISU won 17-14 at North Dakota State. For the season, the Sycamores have posted 21 of its 28 offensive scoring drives after allowing its final score of the game to the opponents. Indiana State is also outscoring teams 47-15 in the fourth quarter of games this season.
The Sycamores earned their first victory over North Dakota State since the Bison entered the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008 with its 17-14 victory inside the Fargodome. ISU's 17 points scored is tied for the most it has ever scored against the Bison and the win broke a four-game losing skid to NDSU.
Indiana State junior Shakir Bell went over the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the season in just the seventh game as he put up 96 yards on the ground as the Sycamores downed No. 1 North Dakota State in front of a near capacity crowd at the Fargodome 17-14. Bell rushed 26 times in the game for 96 yards as he broke his own school record set last year for being the fastest Sycamore to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Bell added two pass receptions for 15 yards in the contest, including a 19-yard reception
in the game's first quarter which set up a 48-yard field goal for Tanner Fritschle. Bell also broke off a 28-yard rush in the fourth quarter against the Bison which allowed the Sycamores to eat up clock after NDSU had narrowed the Sycamore lead down to just 17-14 early in the stanza.
Indiana State senior punter Lucas Hileman had seven punts for 304 yards as the Sycamores earned a 17-14 victory over No. 1 North Dakota State. Hileman averaged 43.4 yards per punt, including a long of 51 yards. He pinned the Bison inside their own 20-yard line twice in the game which allowed the Sycamore defense to put pressure on NDSU by being backed up against their own goal line.
By holding NDSU to 14 points, the Sycamores remained ranked third nationally in scoring defense by allowing just 13.14 points per game. That total is second to North Dakota State both in the league and nationally. The Sycamores are allowing 310.71 yards per game to the opposition this season, which is fourth in the league and 17th in the FCS.
Aaron Archie is averaging 12 tackles per game which is fourth-best in FCS football and tops in the MVFC. Connor Underwood is averaging .71 quarterback sacks per game while is tied for 30th nationally and is tied for third in the league just below MVFC leader, and Connor's older brother, Colton Underwood of Illinois State.
The Sycamores are averaging 38.75 yards per net punt, which is tops in the league and 10th nationally. Special Forces also ranks second nationally and in the league in kickoff return average, boasting a 29.07 tally per opportunity. Hileman is averaging a league-best 43.5 yards per punt, a total which is 10th best nationally.
Indiana State has won two of its last three meetings with Western Illinois, but trail the all-time series against the Leathernecks by a 21-14 margin. The Sycamores broke a nine-game losing skid to Western Illinois with its victory in 2009 at Memorial Stadium. ISU has dropped each of its last seven games in Macomb, Ill., dating back to a 10-7 victory at Hanson Field in 1996.
Shakir Bell Is This Week's Featured Athlete On The NCAA On Campus series. Check out the video at: http://youtu.be/JYTSBMGe5xk
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