Bears Fall Short at Eastern Kentucky, 28-24
Sept. 10, 2011
RICHMOND, Ky. – A solid comeback attempt by Missouri State (0-2) fell short here Saturday as the Bears dropped a 28-24 decision to Eastern Kentucky (1-1) in non-conference play.
After trailing 14-0 at the half and being outgained 276-132 after two quarters, the Bears took the opening drive of the third quarter all the way for a score as Trevor Wooden engineered a 60-yard drive that consumed 14 plays and 6 minutes, 54 seconds. He converted three third downs on the sequence and called his own number from the two-yard line for the score with 8:06 left in the third period. The MSU TD made it a 14-7 game at the time.
The Bears outgained the Colonels 132-4 in the third quarter and ended the period knocking on the door of a potential game-tying score. On third-and-goal, Chris Douglas was cut down at the one-yard line, and MSU elected to kick an 18-yard field goal. Austin Witmer converted the chip shot attempt to wrap a 14-play, 63-yard drive to make it 14-10 just 48 seconds into the final period.
However, just as it looked like the momentum was changing for good, EKU brought the home crowd of 9,200 back into the game with an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jeremy Caldwell to make it 21-10 with 14:11 to go in the contest.
Missouri State bounced off the canvas with a quick strike of its own on the next series. Julian Burton returned the ensuing kickoff to the Bears' 29, setting up a 71-yard touchdown strike from Wooden to Jermaine Saffold on the very next play to make it 21-17 after Witmer's PAT.
The teams exchanged punts on the next two series, but when the Colonels took over at their own 41 with 8:41 to go, Pryor put together a 59-yard touchdown drive to seal the win for the home club. The 13-play drive was capped with a 12-yard scamper by Jeremiah Williams to end the nearly-five-minute drive and made it 28-17 with 3:55 left in the contest.
MSU rallied on its next series, staying in the game with a 60-yard scoring drive that culminated in a nine-yard pass from Wooden to Saffold to make it 28-24 with 1:54 to go. The series took nine plays and consumed just over two minutes as the senior wideout collected his 10th career touchdown catch.
Eastern recovered the ensuing sky kick at its own 33 and ultimately ran out the clock in sealing a 28-24 victory and extending its home winning streak to six games.
In his first career start, Wooden finished 22-for-32 for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was sacked three times, all in the first half, and had a team-high 71 rushing yards with a score. Stephen Johnston added 42 yards on the ground, and Douglas tacked on 36 more. Saffold had a game-high six receptions for 126 yards.
Pryor was 14-for-22 for 146 yards for EKU with 69 additional yards on the ground. Williams finished with 119 yards on 24 carries to lead the Colonels who were outgained by MSU 411-391.
Eastern Kentucky converted 6-of-11 third down plays and collected 276 total yards to build a 14-0 advantage in the first half.
The Colonels scored first, taking the opening drive of the game 75 yards to paydirt on eight plays to build a 7-0 lead. Pryor found a wide open Chris Moore for a 33-yard touchdown strike, followed by a Luke Pray kick.
The Bears punted four times in the first half and committed a costly turnover with 9:21 left in the second. Wooden coughed up the ball after a keeper to midfield. Jeremy Caldwell picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Bears' 26. Three plays later, Williams broke three tackles and completed a seven-yard run into the end zone to make it 14-0.
EKU threatened again later in the quarter, but elected to fake a field goal with 1:21 to go which the Bears snuffed out to take over on downs at their own 20. On third-and-10, Wooden carried 30 yards to the 50-yard line, but was sacked twice before time ran out to end the MSU threat and keep it 14-0 at the break.
Missouri State will travel to No. 13 Oregon next week for a 2:30 p.m. (Central) kickoff. The Bears begin Missouri Valley Football Conference play on Sept. 24 at Southern Illinois (6 p.m.).