Erik Smith ran for two touchdowns, including the game winner, to lift Illinois State to a 27-23 victory over in-state rivals Eastern Illinois on Saturday.
The win meant the Redbirds (6-5) took back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2005-06.
Down 20-23 late in the game, the Redbirds drove 61 yards in about seven minutes, capped when Smith made dashed for the winning touchdown with 1:21 left.
The Panthers (2-9) got the ball back at their own 29-yard line, but Illinois State's Bo Flowers snagged an interception four plays later to secure the win.
The Redbirds' Matt Brown led the game in passing with 238 yards while Ashton Leggett led the team in rushing with 77 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers' Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 161 yards and a touchdown and ran for another. Mon Williams ran for 89 yards and a touchdown.