Bears Look to Build Momentum Saturday Against Illinois State
Oct. 15, 2012
Missouri State Bears (1-6, 1-3 MVFC) at No. 11 Illinois State Redbirds (6-1, 3-1 MVFC)
FIRST AND TEN
♦ Illinois State enters Saturday's game on a hot streak in the series with the Bears. The Redbirds have taken five of the last six meetings in Normal and eight of the last 10 in the series overall.
♦ Missouri State's pass defense leads the MVFC (134.5 ypg) in league play, as does Anthony Grady's (Jr., DE, Texarkana, Ark.) four sacks.
♦ Grady not only established a Bears' season high for sacks in a game Saturday, but also a Missouri State high during the Terry Allen era with his three sacks of USD quarterback Josh Vander Maten.
♦ Kierra Harris (So., QB, Texarkana, Ark.) was impressive in his first start of the 2012 season Saturday to help lead MSU's rally against South Dakota. Harris, who completed 20-of-33 attempts for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. the Coyotes, has completed nearly 66 percent (44-of-67) of his pass attempts on the season.
♦ Dorian Buford (Jr., WR, Florissant, Mo.) ranks second in The Valley and 25th nationally in receptions per game (6.0). With four catches last weekend vs, South Dakota, Buford moved up to 14th on MSU's single-season receptions list. He needs 20 more grabs over the Bears' final four games to match Michael Sparks's school record (2005).
♦ Vernon Scott (Jr., RB, Muskogee, Okla.) needs 24 all-purpose yards to surpass the 1,000-yard plateau for his MSU career, while Cadarrius Dotson (Sr., WR, Memphis, Tenn.) is 29 yards shy of 1,500 all-purpose yards for his career.
♦ Ranked No. 11 in this week's FCS Sports Network poll, Illinois State will be the fourth ranked opponent for MSU this seaosn, following games against FBS Top 25 teams Kansas State (No. 22) and Louisville (No. 23) and South Dakota State (No. 25) from the FCS ranks. Additionally, Indiana State was receiving votes the week of its game with the Bears and currently ranks 21st in the Sports Network Top 25 and 25th in the coaches' poll.
♦ Through seven games, Caleb Schaffitzel (So., S, Fair Grove, Mo.) ranks 10th nationally in tackles per game (11.0). The redshirt sophomore, who rates third among all MVFC defenders in the same category, has posted double-digit tackle totals in five of the Bears' last six outings for a total of 71 stops.
♦ Andrew Beisel (So., ILB, Fenton, Mo.) recorded a career high for tackles in a game for the second week in a row Saturday against South Dakota, finishing with 12 stops to help spearhead the Bears' second-half comeback.
LAST TIME AROUND
Ashton Leggett led the ISU charge, rushing for a game-high 181 yards on 23 carries and punctuating the Redbirds' second-half surge with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that sealed the Bears' fate. Matt Brown threw for a pair of touchdowns in the second half, including the go-ahead score to Tyrone Walker on the first play of the fourth quarter.
MSU led 13-3 at the half before the Redbirds kicked their offense into high gear in the third period. On their first series of the second half, Brown engineered a 13-play drive that chewed up six minutes and ended on a 13-yard scoring pass to Milton Colbert for Illinois State's first touchdown of the day. Brown completed 3-of-6 passes to account for 42 of the Redbirds' 51 yards on the drive to pull ISU to within three points.
The Redbirds had a chance to pull even on their next possession, but Nick Aussieker's 28-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. The ensuing ISU drive turned the tide, however, as Brown connected with Walker on a 17-yard touchdown pass that gave the visitors their first lead of the day. They would tack on seven more when Donovan Harden returned a Jordan Chiles' punt 45 yards to the MSU four, and Leggett took it in two plays later to give ISU an 11-point cushion.
ISU added two more touchdowns, getting a career-long 75-yard TD jaunt from Leggett, and a Cliffton Gordon three-yard run to close out the scoring.
Illinois State finished with a substantial advantage in total yardage, outgaining the Bears by a 454 to 269 margin, thanks in large part to a rushing attack that piled up 316 yards on 49 attempts for the day. The Redbird defense did its job as well, holding the Bears to eight first downs and 37 rushing yards on 28 carries.
THE WITMER FACTOR
Witmer, who is now 9-for-12 on field goal attempts this season and leads the Bears in scoring (36), shared MSU's special teams player of the week honor with freshman punter Chris Sullens for his efforts against the Coyotes. Witmer also garnered some national attention with his selection as Beyond Sports Network's Special Teams Player of the Week.
TWO BEARS EARN NATIONAL HONORS
Burton, who was also named as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, garnered National Punt Return Performer of the Week. He shares the CFPA honor with Darius Carey of McNeese State and Trey Diller of Sam Houston State.
The third-year sophomore helped set up Missouri State's game-winning field goal in the deciding seconds of Saturday's 27-24 home win with a 30-yard punt return in the final minute of the game. His effort set the Bears up at the USD 42-yard line with 0:53 left on the clock. Five plays later, the Bears' Austin Witmer kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.
Burton finished with three punt returns for 68 yards (22.7) and a game-high 166 all-purpose yards, which also earned him the CFPA All-Purpose Performer of the Week honorable mention nod. He had a career-high 98 receiving yards on four catches, including a career-long 60-yard touchdown grab with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter to pull the Bears within 24-17.
Grady is the CFPA National Defensive Line Performer of the Week, along with Caraun Reid of Princeton, after his big game against South Dakota. With 3:01 left in the game, Grady recovered a Coyotes' fumble at the USD 49 yard line to set up the game-tying score as part of MSU's impressive comeback win. He finished the game with 3.0 sacks--a Missouri State high during the Terry Allen era--as well as 3.5 tackles for loss, including a tackle for loss two plays before the key fumble recovery. The Bears' starting right end also finished the game with five total tackles.
SUPER SOPHS LEAD THE WAY
Beisel recorded a career high for tackles in his second straight game Saturday after bringing down 11 Indiana State ball carriers in Terre Haute the week before. A year ago, Beisel became the first MSU freshman to lead the club in tackles since 1998 and he finished 10th in the MVFC in total stops (84). Beisel and the Bears held ISU to just 153 rushing yards on 42 carries (3.6) and 280 total yards for the game.