Redbirds Second-Half Outburst Stops Bears, 38-13
Oct. 8, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Illinois State overcame a 10-point halftime deficit with 35 unanswered points to pull away late for a 38-13 victory over the Missouri State Bears Saturday afternoon at Plaster Field. The Redbirds racked up 270 yards of total offense after the break and outscored MSU 28-0 in the fourth quarter to turn the tables and keep the Bears winless on the season.
Ashton Leggett led the ISU charge, rushing for a game-high 181 yards on 23 carries and punctuating the Redbirds' second-half surge with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that sealed the Bears' fate. Matt Brown threw for a pair of touchdowns in the second half, including the go-ahead score to Tyrone Walker on the first play of the fourth quarter.
MSU led 13-3 at the half before the Redbirds kicked their offense into high gear in the third period. On their first series of the second half, Brown engineered a 13-play drive that chewed up six minutes and ended on a 13-yard scoring pass to Milton Colbert for Illinois State's first touchdown of the day. Brown completed 3-of-6 passes to account for 42 of the Redbirds' 51 yards on the drive to pull ISU to within three points.
The Redbirds had a chance to pull even on their next possession, but Nick Aussieker's 28-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. The ensuing ISU drive turned the tide, however, as Brown connected with Walker on a 17-yard touchdown pass that gave the visitors their first lead of the day. They would tack on seven more when Donovan Harden returned a Jordan Chiles' punt 45 yards to the MSU four, and Leggett took it in two plays later to give ISU an 11-point cushion.
ISU added two more touchdowns, getting a career-long 75-yard TD jaunt from Leggett, and a Cliffton Gordon three-yard run to close out the scoring.
Illinois State finished with a substantial advantage in total yardage, outgaining the Bears by a 454 to 269 margin, thanks in large part to a rushing attack that piled up 316 yards on 49 attempts for the day. The Redbird defense did its job as well, holding the Bears to eight first downs and 37 rushing yards on 28 carries.
The final disparity on the scoreboard came after a strong opening half that saw the Bears take a 13-3 lead on the strength of two of the longest pass completions in school history. Trevor Wooden hooked up with Jermaine Saffold for touchdown strikes of 82 and 91 yards to lead the Bears to their 10-point halftime advantage. Missouri State wasted little time in establishing an early 6-0 lead, as Wooden found Saffold deep down the middle of the field on the game's very first play from scrimmage for an 82-yard score. Austin Wittmer's PAT try missed the mark, but the long score tied two previous plays for the seventh-longest completion in MSU history.
That mark would not last long, as Wooden connected with Saffold down the near sideline late in the first period to stake the Bears to a 10-point lead. Saffold beat ISU's man-to-man coverage near midfield and raced to endzone to finish the longest pass completion in Plaster Field history and the third-longest in the 100-year history of the program.
Illinois State's only offense of the opening half came courtesy of a 14-play, 69-yard scoring drive covering more than half of the opening quarter. Aussieker put the Redbirds on the board with a 24-yard field goal after the Bears' defense stood its ground on a third-and-goal try from the seven.
As a precursor of things to come, the Redbirds did most of their first-half damage on the ground, racking up 129 yards on 26 carries. Leggett accounted for 90 of those yards on 15 rushing plays, while Brown completed 7-of-11 passes for 55 yards.
Wooden finished 8-of-15 for 232 yards through the air--190 of which came in the first half--to lead MSU's charge. Saffold was the recipient of five of the MSU quarterback's completions for 207 yards, eclipsing his previous single-game career high for receiving yardage in the process.
Up next, Missouri State (0-6, 0-3 MVFC) travels to Fargo, N.D., next Saturday (Oct. 15) for an MVFC matchup with North Dakota State. Game time is set for 6 p.m., at the Fargodome.