- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Illinois State football team is paying tribute to the late father of an Eastern Washington football player by wearing a red “65” sticker on their helmets in Saturday’s FCS championship game.

John Rodgers collapsed in the stands with less than two minutes left in Illinois State’s 59-46 win at Eastern Washington on Dec. 13. He was resuscitated by first responders, but died on Dec. 26 at the age of 54.

His son, All-American offensive tackle Jake Rodgers, wore the No. 65 jersey for the Eagles for the final time in the semifinal loss to the Redbirds.

EWU football coach Beau Baldwin tweeted Thursday that the Illinois State football program and coach Brock Spack are incredible on the field and “amazing men of character as well,” while EWU athletic director Bill Chaves lauded the Redbirds sportsmanship.

Illinois State takes on three-time defending champ North Dakota State on Saturday in Frisco, Texas.


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