Bears Topple No. 15 South Dakota State In 35-21 Homecoming Victory
Game recap from MSU Athletics:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri State built a 20-point halftime advantage over No. 15 South Dakota State, then withstood a fourth-quarter rally by the Jackrabbits to claim a 35-21 Homecoming victory afternoon in Missouri Valley Football Conference action before a season-best crowd of 12,321 at Plaster Field.
In his first start of the season, senior quarterback Ashton Glaser threw for a pair of touchdowns and sealed the win with a 69-yard scoring run with remaining in the game and the Bears clinging to a six-point lead. Ryan Heaston rushed for 122 yards on 17 carries, while Mikael Cooper-Falls carried 10 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns, giving MSU its first 100-yard rushing duo in nearly three years.
Missouri State (2-6, 2-2 MVFC), which defeated No. 24 Illinois State in its last home game on Sept. 28, turned in a dominant first-half effort, rolling up 310 yards of total offense -- including 222 on the ground -- to build a 20-0 halftime edge. However, the Jackrabbits (4-4, 1-3 MVFC) got on the board early in the third period on an Austin Sumer-to-Brandon Hubert nine-yard scoring pass, then added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to trim the MSU lead to 27-21 with just over six minutes to play.
But on the Bears' ensuing drive, Glaser called his own number on a 3rd-and-4 play at the MSU 32, breaking free at the line of scrimmage and out-racing a pair of SDSU defenders to the goal line to squash the Jackrabbits' comeback bid.
MSU, which rushed for 352 yards and racked up 478 yards of total offense, used a series of big plays to break on top early in the game. The Bears wasted little time in setting the tempo, as Glaser completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Julian Burton on the Bears' first offensive possession of the day, before big runs by Heaston and Cooper-Falls set up two more first-half scores.
After trading punts with the Jackrabbits over the ensuing 10 minutes, the Bears struck quickly again late in the opening period, using just three plays to complete a 92-yard scoring drive that extended their lead to 14 points. In his first game action since MSU's season-opener against Northwestern State on , Heaston broke free for an 83-yard run - the longest of the season for a Bear - to set up a four-yard touchdown rush by Cooper-Falls that put the home club on top, 14-0 at the mark of the first quarter.
Given its largest first-half lead of the season, MSU's defense followed suit by limiting the high-powered SDSU offense to just 170 yards on 40 plays in the opening half. Zach Zenner, the nation's second-leading rusher entering the game, led the Jackrabbits with 77 rushing yards on the first quarter, helping the visitors move the ball into MSU territory on three of its first four possessions.
But the Bears came up with key stops each time to keep SDSU off the scoreboard, holding the Jacks to 46 yards of offense in the second period. MSU stretched the margin further in the second quarter, once again using a big play to put the Jackrabbits in a big hole. This time, Cooper-Falls ripped off a career-long 66-yard run on the Bears' first offensive play of the period, setting up a first-and-goal at the SDSU 2-yard line. Two plays later, Cooper-Falls carried it into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game to push the MSU lead to 20 points.
South Dakota State got on the board with Sumner's first touchdown pass to Hubert that capped an 11-play, 59-yard drive and cut the Jacks' deficit to 20-7 with to go in the third quarter. Sumner hooked up with Trevor Tiefenthaler on a pair of receptions totaling 26 yards, and a personal foul penalty on the Bears kept the drive alive before SDSU's junior quarterback scrambled to buy enough time to find Hubert in the corner of the end zone on a 3rd-and-goal call.
The Bears responded with a nine-play drive covering 70 yards that ended with Glaser's second touchdown pass of the day. After picking up a key first down with an eight-yard run on 3rd-and-4 at the SDSU 18, the senior signal-caller hit tight endGannon Sinclair over the middle for a 10-yard scoring pass to make it a 27-7 contest with to play in the quarter.
Zenner's two-yard run just two plays into the fourth pulled the Jacks to within 13 points, and a Bears' fumble at the mark set up the SDSU offense with another opportunity near midfield. MSU's league-leading red zone defense came up with another stop deep in its own territory to preserve the lead, forcing a Sumner incompletion on 4th-and-goal from the MSU 10 with just under 10 minutes to play. But another fumble - this time at the MSU 15 - gave the Jackrabbits new life, as Sumner cashed in with a five-yard TD pass to Jason Schneider to draw SDSU to within 27-21 with left on the clock.
Heaston carried twice for a total of six yards to set up Glaser's game-clinching touchdown run, the longest of his MSU career. The Bears put the clamps on the Jacks from there, coming up with a fourth-down stop on South Dakota State's next possession, before Caleb Schaffitzel picked off Sumner for his eighth career interception with to go to put the finishing touches on the Bears' first-ever win over SDSU
Glaser finished the day 10-of-15 for 126 yards passing to go along with 84 rushing yards. Schaffitzel led MSU's defensive effort with a season-high 14 total tackles and four passes broken up to go along with his interception, and Howard Scarborough added 11 stops (seven solo) and four PBUs, while Nick Canavan recorded a pair of sacks, three tackles for losses and six tackles altogether.
Sumner powered SDSU's attack with 232 yards on 18-of-43 passing, and Zenner totaled 145 yards on 30 carries for the Jacks. Schneider hauled in a game-high 103 receiving yards on five catches, while Tiefenthaler caught eight passes for 73 yards.
Up next, Missouri State travels to Macomb, Ill.,
( ) for a MVFC game against Western Illinois at Hanson Field.