Photo courtesy of Illinois State Athletics
BOONE, N.C. (Sports Network) - The Illinois State football players must be thrilled to be on the road during the FCS playoffs.
The Redbirds have yet to lose in six road games this season, and Saturday's 38-37 overtime victory at Appalachian State in the second round was their biggest yet.
Senior quarterback Matt Brown threw for five touchdowns and 322 yards, and Shelby Harris blocked an extra point to end overtime when Appalachian State was trying to tie the game again.
Illinois State (9-3), in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, will play the Wagner-Eastern Washington winner in the national quarterfinals next weekend.
Brown's 25-yard touchdown pass to James O'Shaughnessy on the first play of overtime gave Illinois State a 38-31 lead. Appalachian State answered with Jamal Jackson's 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Peacock to make it 38-37. But Harris then blocked Sam Martin's extra point attempt.
Brown, the Missouri Valley Football Conference's offensive player of the year, completed 20-of-32 pass attempts. Having set seven school records and four conference records this season, he went over 10,000 career passing yards, increasing his total to 10,219.
Tyrone Walker caught 10 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns. O'Shaughnessy also caught two touchdowns.
Appalachian State forced overtime when Peacock's 10-yard touchdown pass to Drew Bailey with 3:31 left tied the game at 31-31.
Jackson was 33-of-45 for 373 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
His favorite receiver, Sean Price, ended his outstanding redshirt freshman by catching 13 passes for 167 yards. He broke the FCS freshman records for receptions and receiving yards in a season with 71 and 1,196, respectively.
The loss ended Appalachian State's season with an 8-4 record. The Mountaineers were making their eighth straight playoff appearance, but it was their third straight defeat at home in the postseason.
It was the first meeting between the two programs.