Defense Comes Up Big in Second Football Scrimmage




Aug. 20, 2011

SPRINGFIELD -- The Missouri State offense got off to a sluggish start in Saturday's intrasquad football scrimmage at Plaster Field, but picked up the pace in the second half in a session otherwise dictated by the defense.

The Bears' offense finished with 485 total yards in 98 plays, but in the early going, the defense was dominant, forcing four turnovers and collecting a safety in the first seven possession alone. The maroon-clad defenders finished with six take-aways by the end of the scrimmage and tallied four sacks in a solid overall performance.

Nick Canavan, Rodney Kelly, Jarrett Wright and Jimmie Strong all recovered fumbles, while Mike Crutcher and Howard Scarborough snagged interceptions, while Josh Hampton applied pressure for a team safety on the second drive of the morning.

The day started on the wrong foot for the offense when a 97-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Wooden to Jermaine Saffold was called back on an illegal formation penalty on the first play of the day. That opening drive ended on a fumble moments later.

Finally on the eighth drive of the session, the offense broke through with an eight-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in an Austin Witmer 32-yard field goal. The scoring effort was paced by Mitchell Jenkins who led the third-string squad to the 15-yard line before it settled for a field goal. Maddy Johnson was instrumental on that push and finished the day with a team-high 41 yards on six carries.

The field was shortened in the second half as the Bears focused on goal line and two-minute situations. Chris Douglas punched in a two-yard touchdown run early in the second half to cap a three-play, five-yard drive. Witmer later added field goals of 29, 27 and 37 yards, while backup QB Kierra Harris later connected with Julian Burton for a 25-yard touchdown pass on the 18th drive of the day.

Burton also caught the final pass of the day, a 14-yard completion, but lost the handle in a two-minute drill to put an exclamation point on a frustrating day for the white squad.

Saffold led a cast of 12 receivers and finished with a team-high six receptions for 113 yards. Wooden completed 12-of-16 passes for 177 yards and an interception. Jenkins was 8-for-15 for 103 yards through the air, while Harris finished 6-for-13 for 73 yards.

The offense finished 26-for-44 through the air for 353 yards, a touchdown, while compiling 132 yards on 50 carries on the ground, led by Johnson with six carries for 41.

Head coach Terry Allen also announced the captains for the 2011 season in Chris Douglas, Stephen Johnston, Mikle Ruder, David Ingram and Travis Simmons, as selected by the players.

Several things await the Bears next week after the coaching staff evaluates today's scrimmage. The annual Meet the Bears night is slated for Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. at Plaster after the squad wraps up camp Monday afternoon.  The team will scrimmage again on Wednesday and do a mock game on Aug. 27.

Meet the Bears night will feature interactive games, autographs and skill stations with MSU players and coaches, free Domino's Pizza, Hiland Dairy ice cream and Pepsi products on hand. The festivities at Plaster Field are free and open to fans of all ages.

The squad's Kickoff Luncheon, which will feature a $10 hamburger-style buffet, is set for Sept. 1 at Noon at the PRIME Overtime Club at JQH Arena.



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