Big-play Bears upend SDSU
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State racked up a number of big plays on offense, rolling up 357 rushing yards en route to a 35-21 victory over South Dakota State Saturday afternoon at Plaster Field.
The Bears, playing before a homecoming crowd of 12,312, improved to 2-6 overall and 2-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU, ranked 15th and 18th in the two major Football Championship Subdivision polls, dropped to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in league play.
Each of the first three Missouri State scoring drives featured a play of more than 50 yards. The Bears cracked the scoring column on their opening drive of the game on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Ashton Glaser to Julian Burton.
The Bears turned to the running game for their next two scores, building a 20-0 lead three minutes into the second quarter. Ryan Heaston rambled 83yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Mikael Cooper-Falls late in the first quarter.
Cooper-Falls made it 20-0 on the next Bears’ possession, breaking off a 66-yard run before scoring on a 3-yard run two plays later. The extra point was blocked.
SDSU, meanwhile, regularly moved the ball into Bear territory only to have drives stall. The Jackrabbits missed a 38-yard field goal attempt midway through the first quarter and turned the ball over on downs on another drive. SDSU converted only one of nine third-down attempts in the first half – five of which were two yards or less.
The Jackrabbits began to find an offensive rhythm in the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives. SDSU got on the board with 7 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Austin Sumner to Brandon Hubert.
Missouri State answered with a nine-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Glaser to Gannon Sinclair.
SDSU responded with a nine-play, 82-yard drive of its own that carried over to the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Zach Zenner scored from two yards out to bring the Jackrabbits to within 27-14.
The Jackrabbit defense forced and recovered fumbles on the next two Missouri State possessions. SDSU came up empty on a trip to the red zone after the first fumble, turning the ball over on downs at the Bear 11. However, the Jackrabbits cashed in after taking over at the Missouri State 15 following the second fumble as Sumner connected with Jason Schneider on a 5-yard back-shoulder throw to make it a one-score game at 27-21 with 6:04 to play.
The momentum shifted one final time in Missouri State’s favor on the ensuing possession. Facing third-and-4, Glaser broke through the line on a quarterback keeper and scored from 69 yards out. The two-point conversion also was good as Glaser hooked up with Julian Burton.
Glaser completed 10-of-15 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with seven different receivers. He also added 84 yards on the ground on eight attempts. Heaston led the Bears’ ground game with 122 yards on 17 carries, while Cooper-Falls added 104 yards on 10 carries. Eric Christophel led the receiving corps with three catches for 29 yards.
For the Jackrabbits, Zenner tallied 138 yards on 30 carries, while Sumner completed 18-of-43 passes for 232 yards and two scores. Trevor Tiefenthaler recorded a career-high nine catches for 95 yards, with Schneider adding four receptions for 81 yards — all in the second half.
All-America safety Caleb Schaffitzel recorded a game-high 14 tackles and intercepted a pass on the final SDSU drive to lead the Bear defense.
The Jackrabbits return to action Oct. 26, hosting Northern Iowa in the annual Hall of Fame Game. Military Appreciation Day also will be observed at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, with kickoff slated for 2 p.m.
NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series, 5-1 … Hubert moved into a tie for 10th place in receptions at SDSU with 119, matching the career total of Solomon Johnson (2001-04) … Zenner topped the 100-yard mark for the seventh time this season and 16th time in his career … Sumner broke a tie for the Jackrabbit career completions record previously held by Ryan Berry (514 from 2005-08), finishing the day with 532 … the Jackrabbits were penalized only twice for 20 yards; Missouri State was flagged five times for 63 yards … SDSU ended the afternoon 5-of-16 on third-down attempts and 2-for-5 on fourth down … the Jackrabbits ran 84 offensive plays compared to 62 by Missouri State