Cheney, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - As usual Saturday, red ruled at Eastern Washington's Roof Field, home of the red "Inferno" turf.
This time, however, it was the Illinois State Redbirds, not host Eastern Washington, that kept changing the scoreboard the most as the fifth-seeded visitors stunned the fourth-seeded Eagles, 59-46, in the FCS quarterfinals.
Illinois State (12-1) will next play on the other side of the country, going to top-seeded New Hampshire (12-1) for the semifinals next weekend.
Sophomore Marshaun Coprich rushed for 258 yards and four touchdowns and the Redbirds kept Eastern Washington star Vernon Adams Jr. in check for the first three quarters while they prevented the Eagles (11-3) from reaching the national semifinals for a fourth time in five seasons. Two of Coprich's scores came in the third quarter when Illinois State extended a 24-17 halftime lead to 45-20.
In the decisive third quarter, Coprich rushed for a 21-yard touchdown on the Redbirds' first possession to give them a 31-17 lead. After Tyler McNannay kicked a 36-yard field goal to close Eastern Washington's deficit to 11 points, Coprich capped Illinois State's next drive with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 4:24 mark, making it 38-20.
Alex Donnelly then intercepted Adams deep in Eagles territory, which set up a short 23-yard touchdown drive capped by quarterback Tre Roberson's 5-yard TD run with nine seconds left to make it 45-20.
Adams' 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter pulled Eastern Washington within 45-27, but Roberson's 31-yard touchdown pass to Lechein Neblett extended the Redbirds' lead to 52-27.
Adams sandwiched a pair of touchdown passes to Cooper Kupp (10 receptions, 185 yards) around a successful onside kick and Eastern Washington closed with two touchdowns, but Coprich's 74-yard touchdown burst made it 59-39 and gave the Redbirds a touchdown on their first five possessions of the second half.
Coprich, the Missouri Valley Conference offensive player of the year, has rushed for over 100 yards in all 13 Illinois State games this season.
Adams added a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Shaq Hill, finishing 25-for-44 for 425 yards with two interceptions. For three quarters, he was outperformed by Roberson, who 19-for-24 for 206 yards and two touchdowns with 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The two teams combined for 1,065 yards.
The game was delayed with 1:40 remaining while a fan in the stands, said to be the parent of an Eastern Washington, went into cardiac arrest before being attended to and then taken to an area hospital.
Illinois State scored on its first four possessions to take a 24-10 lead midway through the second quarter. After Nick Aussieker opened the scoring with a field goal, Coprich scored on a touchdown run set up by a Mike Banks fumble recovery, Brady Tibbits added a scoring run and Roberson passed for a touchdown to Cameron Meredith.
But Eastern Washington gained late momentum by pulling within 24-17 on Jabari Wilson's 1-yard TD run with just 36 seconds remaining in the first half.
Quincy Forte had scored on a 9-yard run and McNannay kicked a field goal for the Eagles earlier in the half.
Illinois State's last trip to the playoffs in 2012 ended on the red turf with a 51-35 loss to Eastern Washington. This time, the host Eagles were left seeing red.