No. 19 Western Illinois runs past Bears, 31-10
A veteran offensive line and potent running back from the No. 19 Western Illinois University Leathernecks battered a young Missouri State defense Saturday afternoon to lead WIU to a 31-10 Gateway Football Conference victory over the Bears at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill.
WIU junior TB Herb Donaldson ran for 314 yards on 32 carries, just missing his own school and Gateway single game record of 328 set last year, and got Western’s first two touchdowns in the contest. He had plenty of help all afternoon as the Leathernecks finished with 566 total yards, 508 of them on the ground. Donaldson’s 314 ground yards and WIU’s 508 were the best single game individual and team performances on record against a Missouri State football team.
For their part, the Bears hung tough for three quarters. After losing a fumble three plays after the opening kickoff and giving WIU just 26 yards to cover in three plays for the game’s first touchdown, the Bears got untracked and marched 82 yards on nine plays to tie the game, 7-7. QB Cody Kirby completed four straight passes in the drive, covering the last 17 yards into the end zone with a throw to WR Eric Davis. Five punts and an interception later, it was still 7-7 after a quarter.
WIU launched an 89-yard drive early in the second period, capped by a second Donaldson three-yard scoring run. WIU’s record-setting K Taylor Rowan nailed a 47-yard field goal but the Bears’ Nathan Stokes answered with a career-long 52-yarder. WIU had a first down on the Bears’ five in the closing seconds of the half but Missouri State held and then blocked a Rowan field goal try and it was 17-10 at the half.
WIU started the third quarter with another long drive and had a first down inside the Bears’ 10. Once again, MSU held and forced a field goal try. This time, Rowan was wide left. It was still 17-10 after three periods.
The Bears stalled out inside the WIU 20 to start the final quarter but Stokes was just wide on a field goal try. Donaldson was the big gainer on an 80-yard drive that took just six plays. TB Alex Douglas covered the last 15 yards to score. The Bears’ problems compounded when they went three-and-out after receiving the next kickoff. WIU’s Anthony D’Astice broke through and blocked Stokes’s punt and then recovered the ball in the end zone. WIU had added two scored in less than half a minute to make it 31-10 with 10:35 to play and the issue was decided.
The Bears, playing their fifth ranked team in seven weeks, fell to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Gateway. Western Illinois won its second league start in as many tries and moved to 5-2 for the season.
Missouri State stays on the road next week and gets yet another ranked opponent when they head to Carbondale, Ill., Saturday (Oct. 20) for a 1:30 p.m. Gateway clash with Southern Illinois. SIU was ranked sixth last week before a loss at Northern Iowa.