Bears edged by Sam Houston State, 20-17
Two critical special teams mistakes led to 10 points for visiting Sam Houston State as the Bearkats slipped past the Missouri State Bears 20-17 Saturday night at Plaster Field in the Bears’ final non-conference football game of the season.
The Bearkats blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone late in the second period for a touchdown and then got new life on offense when the Bears were penalized on a made SHSU field goal attempt late in the third quarter. The penalty led to a first down and the Bearkats wound up with a touchdown instead of a field goal. Even with the blocked punt TD, Missouri State would still have been down by just six points and would have had a chance to go ahead with their last touchdown but for the penalty on the field goal try.
The Bears’s defense held SHSU to set up a fourth down late in the third period at the Missouri State 25 and the Bearkats converted the field goal but MSU was whistled for having a defender on another Bear player’s back. The 15-yard penalty gave SHSU a first down on the Bears’ 12 and TB D.D. Terry scored from there on the next play. Instead of trailing 16-10, the Bears found themselves down 20-10 with 5:32 left in the period.
Two punt exchanges gave Missouri State the ball back with 9:54 to play in the game. QB Matt Krapfl generated an eight-play, 71-yard drive capped as TB Michael Cooper plunged into the end zone for make it 20-17 with 6:40 to play. Once again the Bears held on defense and got the ball back on a punt at their own 25 with 3:06 remaining. Missouri State picked up 19 yards on two plays and had a second-and-one at its own 46 but couldn’t gain the final yard for the first down in three cracks The ball went over on downs and SHSU ran out the clock to move its record to 2-1 for the season.
Sam Houston State put together a 49-yard drive on its third possession with TB Andrew Audelin scoring on a four-yard run. K Nathan Stokes got the Bears on the board with a field goal with six minutes left in the secod period. The critical punt block came with 3:19 left in the period as DB Tony Jones batted away a punt in the end zone and the ball popped right to DB Byran Richmond for the touchdown and a 13-3 SHSU halftime lead.
The Bears closed the gap to 13-10 on an 81-yard drive in the third period capped with a 27-yard scoring pass from Krapfl to WR Chris Geisz. Krapfl finished 20-of-29 passing for 225 yards with Geisz his top receiver at five catches for 90 yards. Cooper and TE Payne Hall had four catches each and Cooper led MSU rushing with 75 yards. Stokes had his third straight strong punting effort of the season with a 43.5-yard average on four punts.
The Bears’ hurt their own cause by throwing two first quarter pass interceptions. They had a 269-184 advantage in passing yardage over the Bearkats but netted fewer than 100 yards on the ground in slipping to 1-3 for the season. It was the Bears’ first home non-conference loss in eight years and Missouri State goes into league play with a losing record for the first time in six seasons. The Bears stay at home next week to host defending Gateway Football Conference co-champion Youngstown State Saturday (Sept. 30) at 6 p.m. at Plaster Field.