NORMAL, Ill. -- Zack Annexstad threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, Jalen Carr returned a kickoff 98 yards to the end zone and Illinois State rallied to beat Valparaiso 28-21 on Saturday night.
Annexstad staked Illinois State (1-1) to a 7-0 first-quarter lead with a 35-yard scoring strike to Nigel White.
Mason Kaplan pulled Valparaiso (1-1) even with an 8-yard touchdown toss to Matt Ross. The Beacons grabbed a 14-7 lead in the second quarter when the Redbirds' Franky West muffed a punt and Caleb Rao recovered it in the end zone.
The lead lasted until Carr returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to knot the score. Annexstad gave the Redbirds a 21-14 halftime lead when he ran 8 yards for a score on a keeper midway through the period.
Illinois State pushed its lead to 28-14 after three quarters on Annexstad's 23-yard scoring strike to Bryson Deming.
Kaplan added a 14-yard TD toss to Evan Jernegan in the fourth quarter to end the scoring.
Annexstad completed 14 of 22 passes for 196 yards with one interception. Wenkers Wright rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries.
Kaplan finished with 191 yards on 18-of-36 passing with three interceptions for Valparaiso.
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