Highly-Regarded MSU Defense Wins Over Final Fall Scrimmage
Aug 17, 2013
SPRINGFIELD – With one of the top defensive units in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, Missouri State closed out training camp Saturday afternoon with the club's second preseason scrimmage on a day dominated by the maroon-clad defenders for a majority of the 120 plays.
After Cedric Miller (So., Memphis, Tenn.) darted down the near sideline for a 58-yard gain on the fourth play of the morning, it looked like the offense was headed for a great start. But senior cornerback Howard Scarborough (Tulsa, Okla.) turned the tables on the next sequence when he snagged a Kierra Harris (Jr., Texarkana, Ark.) pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.
Ashton Glaser's (Sr., QB, Springdale, Ark.) 31-yard pass completion to Maddy Johnson (So., Webb City, Mo.) was the other big play for the offense in the opening half. Under duress, Glaser threw a strike to Johnson who made an athletic catch in traffic on the far sideline. The defense stepped up from there, however, giving up just 11 first downs on the 18 first-half possessions with no points.
After regrouping at the intermission, the offense was able to put points on the board early in the second half, accounting for 90 yards on its first four possessions that led to three field goals and a touchdown. Austin Witmer (Sr., K, Grand Island, Neb.) capped a 17-yard drive with the first team on a 30-yard field goal to start the second half. Marcelo Bonani (So., K, Lake Wales, Fla.) then capped a 9-play, 27-yard push by the second team with a 24-yard field goal on the next series. Witmer tacked on a 28-yard kick with the third-team unit on the ensuing 24-yard drive.
The Bears then scored their first touchdown on the fourth drive of the second half. The offense set up shop at the 20-yard line and covered the distance in just six plays when Harris punched it in from a yard out before Bonani added the extra point. After a 37-yard field goal by Witmer on the next possession, the offense put up points for the seventh straight series when Mikael Cooper-Falls (Sr., RB, Springfield, Mo.) capped a 3-play, 7-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run in the goal-line offensive set.
The defense stepped up its efforts on the last five drives of the day, giving up just 5 total yards on the last 16 plays as Art Rucker (Sr., S, Shawnee, Kan.) and Brandon Cheaton (Jr., S, Middletown, Del.) came up with interceptions to close out the event. For Cheaton, the former Delaware standout, it marked his second pick in as many weeks.
Miller led the offense with 71 yards on 9 carries, while senior Vernon Scott (Muskogee, Okla.) added 35 yards on 8 carries, and Cooper-Falls tallied 30 yards on 8 attempts. Johnson and Eric Christophel (So., WR, Nixa, Mo.) each had 3 receptions to lead a cast of 10 receivers, while Glaser's 77 yards on 7-of-16 passing attempts outshined the starter Harris who was just 6-for-14 for 28 yards.
The defense got a fumble recovery by Ben Howard (Fr., ILB, St. Louis, Mo.) in the first half, while Anthony Grady (Sr., DE, Texarkana, Ark.) posted a pair of sacks, and James Barnes (So., St. Louis, Mo.) had another. As a unit, the Bears' defenders gave up just 2.9 yards per carry on the ground and just under 3.0 yards per play overall while forcing three turnovers.
With classes beginning Monday, the Bears will start regular, afternoon practices Monday as they begin game preparation for the Aug. 29 season opener against Northwestern State at Plaster Field (6 p.m.). Tickets are available by calling (417) 836-7678 during box office hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, on-line at MissouriStateTix.com or in person at the Chevy Pickup Window at JQH Arena.
RUSHING (78-228): Cedric Miller 9-71; Vernon Scott 8-35; Mikael Cooper-Falls 8-30; Calan Crowder 11-23; Phoenix Johnson 10-20; Ashton Glaser 3-17; Julian Posey 9-17; Alex Lawson 2-9; Ryan Heaston 2-8; Josh Mattes 8-7; Kierra Harris 7-(-4); Team 1-(-5).
RECEIVING (18-124): Maddy Johnson 3-37; Eric Christophel 3-15; Zac Hoover 2-21; Adam Judnich 2-15; Ryan Boatright 2-10; Stacey Thornton 2-5; Dorian Buford 1-8; Julian Burton 1-7; Richard Darden 1-7; Elgie Hurd 1-(-1).
SCORING PLAYS:Howard Scarborough 58 yd. interception returnAustin Witmer 30 yd. field goalMarcelo Bonani 24 yd. field goalAustin Witmer 28 yd. field goalKierra Harris 1 yd. run (Marcelo Bonani kick)Austin Witmer 37 yd. field goalMikael Cooper-Falls 1 yd. run (Marcelo Bonani kick)