Bears' Early Onslaught at Western Illinois Leads to Second-Straight Win
Oct. 26, 2013
MACOMB, Ill. - Missouri State ambushed Western Illinois with 21 first-quarter points en route to its second consecutive Missouri Valley Football Conference victory with a 38-27 decision over the Leathernecks Saturday evening at Hanson Field. Ashton Glaser threw for one touchdown and rushed for two more to lead the Bears, who improved to 3-2 in MVFC play and 3-6 overall.
The Bears built their early lead in a span of just over four minutes, jumping on the Leathernecks (3-6, 1-4 MVFC) thanks to a 12-play, 72-yard drive that culminated in a Glaser to Julian Burton 9-yard scoring strike with 8:46 to play in the first period that gave MSU a 7-0 advantage.
Ryan Heaston handed the Bears a 14-point edge on their next drive by ripping off a 46-yard touchdown run at the 6:12 mark, and a WIU fumble on the ensuing kickoff set up MSU at the Leatherneck 15.
Glaser would cash in five plays later, crossing the goal line from two yards out to make it a 21-0 MSU lead.
Western Illinois would make a game of it with 13 unanswered points, first reaching the end zone late in the opening period on a Trenton Norvell to Hi-C Scott touchdown pass from 30 yards out. The WIU freshman quarterback would later hit Lance Lenoir on a 19-yard scoring pass with just 4:11 to play in the half, pulling WIU to within 21-13.
MSU would answer in a big way, as Cedric Miller returned Matt Swan's block of a Nathan Knuffman punt 42 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bears a 28-13 lead and a huge momentum swing just 32 seconds before intermission.
The Leathernecks struck first in the second stanza, using a Norvell to Fredson Salomon 18-yard pass to reach pay dirt, drawing WIU back to within 28-20 with 7:10 to play in the third quarter.
But MSU would come up with another big play, this time capitalizing on a Glaser-to-Vernon Scott 42-yard completion to set up another touchdown. The Bears' senior quarter back completed the seven-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run to make it a 35-20 game at the 4:00 mark in the third.
Senior cornerback Howard Scarborough picked off Norvell on the Leathernecks' ensuing drive, and Austin Witmer would add a 39-yard field goal to extend the advantage to 18 points with just under nine minutes to play in the contest.
Norvell tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the night to complete an 85-yard drive and pull WIU back to within 11 points, this time connecting with Scott for a 34-yard scoring play with 5:52 to go.
But the Bears would hold the lead from there, wrapping up their first road win of the season and moving into a tie for third place in the MVFC standings with three conference games to play.
Mikael Cooper-Falls led the Bears with 58 rushing yards on 18 carries, while Glaser scored twice and totaled 42 yards on the ground. The senior also threw for 133 yards on 10-for-16 passing, while Burton paced the Bears with 44 receiving yards and five receptions.
MSU utilized it special teams to gain a sizable advantage in field position throughout the night, with Burton totaling 110 yards on three kickoff returns to finish the night with 152 all-purpose yards. The junior recorded a career-best 56-yard return, while freshman LeMarcus Stewart added 67 return yards of his own, including a personal-best 39-yarder.
The Bears also logged a pair of blocked kicks, with Sybhrian Berry blocking an extra point before Swan's key punt block late in the first half.
Western Illinois, which out-gained the Bears 363 to 311 and forced four fumbles, received a lift from Norvell, who threw for 269 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-36 passing. Scott hauled in 104 receiving yards on four catches and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Leathernecks.
The Bears return home next Saturday (Nov. 2) when they host the Indiana State Sycamores in a 1:05 p.m. contest at Plaster Field.