Bears Trail Salukis at the Break, 14-6
Sept. 22, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Despite dominating nearly every offensive statistical category and generating several scoring opportunities in the first half of their Missouri Valley Football Conference opener against Southern Illinois, the Missouri State Bears headed to intermission trailing the Salukis by a 14-6 score Saturday afternoon at Plaster Field.
Missouri State outgained the Salukis by a 242 to 102 margin in total offense and recorded 14 first downs to six for SIU, as Ashton Glaser completed 18-of-28 passes for 150 yards and Ryan Heaston rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries. The Bears, however, failed to reach the end zone in the first 30 minutes of the contest, settling for a pair of Austin Witmer field goals instead.
For Southern Illinois, Kory Faulkner was successful on 8-of-11 passing attempts for 42 yards and the only offensive touchdown of the half, a 12-yard strike to Mulku Kalokoh.
SIU broke into the scoring column first, getting a key defensive play to take an early 7-0 lead. Emmanuel Souarin stepped in front of a Glaser pass and returned the ball 44 yards for a Saluki touchdown just four minutes and 59 seconds into the game. After stopping the Bears' offense on the ensuing possession, the Salukis put together a 63-yard scoring drive to take a commanding 14-point lead. Kalokoh sparked the drive with a 36-yard run to set up SIU in the red zone, before taking a swing pass from Faulkner and trotting into the end zone with 5:54 remaining in the period.
The Bears answered with an 11-play drive to put their first points of the afternoon on the scoreboard. Heaston ripped off a 14-yard rush, and Glaser connected on all four of his pass attempts to help MSU drive 68 yards to the SIU seven before the drive stalled. Witmer then nailed a 25-yard field-goal attempt to draw the Bears to within 14-3.
Missouri State moved the ball deep into Saluki territory again on its next possession, thanks to a pair of long Glaser completions. The junior transfer connected with Eric Christophel on a key 30-yard gain on third down from the MSU 33, then hit Matt Thayer for a 14-yard completion to push the chains to the Saluki 23. SIU forced a field goal attempt, but a running into the kicker penalty gave the Bears new life at the SIU 12. Three straight Heaston rushes moved the ball to the five, but the Salukis came up big on fourth down, stopping Heaston just short of the first down marker to halt the drive.
After forcing another Southern Illinois punt deep in their own territory, the Bears regained the ball in prime position to further cut into the visitors' lead. A 26-yard punt gave MSU the ball at the SIU 30, but the Bears moved the ball just four yards before Witmer's second field goal of the game--this one from 43 yards out--made it a 14-6 contest.
In addition to big first halves for Glaser and Heaston, Thayer hauled in seven catches for 59 yards, with both totals eclipsing previous career highs for the senior tight end.