Freshmen Steal Spotlight in Bears' First Fall Scrimmage
Redshirt freshman Julian Burton
Redshirt freshman Julian Burton

Aug. 13, 2011

SPRINGFIELD -- Saturday's 100-play intrasquad scrimmage at Plaster Field had a little bit of everything for the Missouri State football Bears. Long pass completions, solid running, great defense, consistency from the veterans, and some amazing freshman efforts were all on display in the two-hour session.

The scrimmage brought to a close the second week of fall camp and the second of four two-a-day practices. The Bears also had a 90-minute morning practice that focused heavily on special teams work.

Saturday night, the freshmen stole the show. Running backs Ryan Heaston (Cordova, Tenn.) and Maddy Johnson (Webb City) both turned heads with solid play. Heaston rushed 12 times for 75 yards, including a 42-yard run from scrimmage on his first touch of the night. He also had five receptions for 23 yards. Johnson had three pass receptions for 19 yards and gathered a team-high 14 carries for 15 total yards, including a key fourth-and-one touchdown run with the first team.

Freshman QB Kierra Harris (Texarkana, Ark.) was 7-for-11 through the air for 111 yards, including a sensational 52-yard touchdown strike to fellow freshman Eric Christophel (Nixa, Mo.). Harris also had 10 carries for 52 yards at QB with four touches of nine yards or more.

Redshirt freshman Julian Burton (Cordova, Tenn.) matched Heaston with a team-high five catches and led the Bears with 101 receiving yards. He had grabs of 69 and 25 yards and narrowly missed a touchdown on the 69-yard catch-and-run.

Fellow freshman Bernard Thomas (Blue Springs, Mo.) had the game's only interception, returning a Mitchell Jenkins pass back 52 yards late in the night.

"I thought our young players played really well on both sides of the ball," Head coach Terry Allen said. "I was pleased with Kierra Harris and Ryan Heaston. Bernard Thomas had an interception. It was a really good first scrimmage, and from a learning curve standpoint, we know the things we need to start working on."

Starters Cadarrius Dotson (WR, Memphis, Tenn.) and Chris Douglas (RB, Lawrenceville, Ga.) sat out to nurse nagging injuries, but regular Stephen Johnston (Mansfield, Texas) had four carries for 25 yards, and all-conference WR Jermaine Saffold (Grandview, Mo.) was one of nine receivers to collect a reception, with one grab for 12 yards.

On the defensive side, D.J. Vokolek's unit broke up eight passes, got an interception from cornerback Thomas, got a fumble recovery from Darius Blow (OLB, Grandview, Mo.), and collected six sacks, including two from Martin Montgomery (DE, Pine Bluff, Ark.).


Rushing (64-148): Ryan Heaston 12-75; Kierra Harris 10-52; Stephen Johnston 4-25; Maddy Johnson 14-15; Trevor Wooden 10-9; Vernon Scott 5-2; Mitchell Jenkins 5-(-13); TEAM 4-(-17).

Passing (36-20-236-1): Kierra Harris 11-7-111-0 (1 TD); Trevor Wooden 17-9-110-0; Mitchell Jenkins 8-4-15-1.

Receiving (20-236): Julian Burton 5-101; Ryan Heaston 5-23; Maddy Johnson 3-19; Dorian Buford 2-29; Eric Christophel 1-52; Jermaine Saffold 1-12; Eric Brown 1-9; Adrian Williams 1-3; Vernon Scott 1-(-2).

Field Goals: Austin Witmer 3-4 (long 34).

Interceptions: Bernard Thomas 1-52.
Sacks (6-41): Martin Montgomery 2-11; Corey Feagin 1-10; Nate Davis 1-10; Eric Pearce 1-6; Rodney Kelly 1-4.
Fumble Recovery (1-0): Darius Blow 1-0.
Pass Break-ups (8): Darius Blow 1, Jimmie Strong 1, Nate Davis 1, Caleb Schaffitzel 1, Mike Crutcher 1, Tevan Ferguson 1, Andrew Jordan 1, Rodney Kelly 1.

Austin Witmer 25 yd. field goal
Trevor Wooden 2 yd. run (run failed)
Eric Christophel 52 yd. pass from Kierra Harris (Witmer kick)
Maddy Johnson 1 yd. run (Witmer kick)
Kierra Harris 2 yd. run (no PAT)
Austin Witmer 34 yd. field goal
Austin Witmer 31 yd. field goal



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