December 10, 2015

Even though Illinois State coach Brock Spack hasn't talked much about the nation's longest home winning streak, his Redbirds know they don't want to be on the field when the run finally comes to an end.

With a lot at stake in the first matchup between the schools, Richmond hopes the unfamiliarity can work to its advantage during a visit to Normal, Illinois.

The second-seeded Redbirds will try to punch a ticket to the national semifinals for the second straight season with a 20th consecutive home victory Friday night against the seventh-seeded Spiders.

Spack made turning Hancock Stadium into a difficult place for opposing teams to play a priority when he arrived at Illinois State seven years ago. That vision has become a reality.

The Redbirds (10-2) have won by an average of 24.7 points during the longest current home winning streak in the FCS. After winning at Eastern Washington and New Hampshire during their march to the 2014 championship game, they're enjoying a stay at home this postseason.

"I think we've had pretty good players," Spack said. "They're comfortable here. I don't think they want to be the ones in the game when the streak ends."

Illinois State nursed a three-point lead after three quarters last Saturday before scoring three touchdowns in the final 12 minutes to advance with a 36-19 second-round win over Western Illinois at Hancock Stadium.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference co-champs continue to lean on All-American Marshaun Coprich, who finished with 217 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The senior has totaled 722 yards and nine scores over three consecutive 200-yard efforts.

Tre Roberson threw two interceptions on Saturday, but made up for it by rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns. The dual-threat senior has scampered for 534 yards and nine scores over his last six games.

Anthony Warrum had six catches for 107 yards and a school-record 14th touchdown. The junior is fourth on the team's single-season list with 1,138 yards.

Now Richmond (9-3) will have to find a way to contain Illinois State's three-headed attack. The Colonial Athletic Association champs have allowed 93.7 rushing yards per game over their last three after giving up 172.3 in their first nine.

"They've been very conventional I'd say the last several weeks and they've been able to control and run the ball," CAA Coach of the Year Danny Rocco said. "We have to be ready for anything that they throw at us."

The Spiders ranked 10th in the CAA against the pass, allowing 208.8 yards per game. However, they had three interceptions while holding William & Mary to 122 yards through the air in last weekend's 48-13 second-round home victory. Their 20 picks are tied for the most in the CAA.

Looking to take another step toward its first national title since 2008, Richmond hopes to have some surprises in store as it tries to end the Redbird's home streak.

"They play in a really good league so they've beaten some really good teams (at home)," Rocco said. "So in that vain, I think some unfamiliarity with their opponent offers us more justification to feel like we can go in there and win a football game.

Illinois State knows the Spiders will try to establish a ground game behind Jacobi Green. The senior finished with 141 yards and three touchdowns against the Tribe, leaving him with 178.2 yards per game and 13 scores in his last six.

The Redbirds were third in the MVC against the run, allowing 145.5 yards per game. They also held Western Illinois to just 18 yards on 24 attempts last weekend.

"Their back, I think, is the best back we've since probably Youngstown (State) and maybe since Iowa (in Week 1)," Spack said. "He's very good. I really like him."

Richmond's Kyle Lauletta will try to bounce back after throwing a season-low 146 yards and two interceptions last week.

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