Football Bears Fall 38-35 in Overtime at Indiana State
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The third overtime game in the last five meetings here saw Indiana State hold off visiting Missouri State, 38-35, in Missouri Valley Football Conference action Saturday.
The Bears (2-4, 1-2) built a 35-21 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Indiana State (4-2, 2-1) scored 17 unanswered points to claim the win.
The game-winner came on a 32-yard field goal by Cory Little on Indiana State's possession in overtime. The Sycamores' initial drive in extra time stalled at the MSU 14, which led to the field goal attempt by Little.
It looked as if the Bears had an opportunity for victory on the next possession as Stephen Johnston carried four times for 14 yards to get the ball to the ISU five. On fourth-and-two from the five, the Bears sent back the field goal unit to go for the win. However, a false start penalty pushed the ball back to the 10-yard line and brought on Jordan Chiles for a 27-yard field goal attempt.
Chiles' kick missed left, and Indiana State completed the comeback with the narrow overtime decision.
The Sycamores outgained the Bears 508-400, despite a 207-197 edge on the ground by the Bears. Johnston posted his second straight 100-yard game for MSU, carrying 22 times for 112 yards.
After coming from behind to tie the game three times in the first half, the Bears used a 74-yard drive to take their first lead early in the third quarter. Johnston carried a bulk of the load on the series, including a 19-yard touchdown run with 5:26 on the clock. The seven-play series took just under three minutes and also included great passes from Cody Kirby to Saffold and Trevor Wooden.
The ensuing drive by ISU stalled at the Missouri State 21, and the Bears capitalized quickly. A 56-yard pass on third down from Kirby to Saffold set the Bears up at the Sycamore 17 with 14:08 to play in regulation. Two plays later, Kirby rushed for his second TD of the game - from 13 yards out - to make it a 35-21 ball game at the 13:05 mark. The 78-yard scoring drive took just five plays.
But ISU showed signs of life on the next drive as Ronnie Fouch connected with Justin Hilton in the end zone to cap a quick, six-play scoring drive that consumed 72 yards. The 25-yard TD pass with 8:56 to go was set up with a huge third-down conversion from the Sycamores' own 21, with a 48-yard completion to Hilton to the MSU 31. Three plays later, Hilton made it a 35-28 game.
MSU went three and out on its next drive, and ISU took over on its own 25 with 7:45 to play. A 31-yard pass completion to Alex Jones on the first play from scrimmage moved the Sycamores into Bears' territory. Two plays later Fouch connected with Hilton again for a 35-yard touchdown strike to tie the game, 35-35, with 6:31 to go.
The Bears had a chance to win it in regulation with 2:20 to play when Chiles attempted a 48-yard field goal from the right hash and missed it just wide right. ISU took over on its own 31 with 2:15 on the clock, but the Bears' defense held ISU to a three-and-out, and neither team could capitalize from there, sending it into overtime.
In the first half, Indiana State got on the board early on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Fouch to Ednut Egberongbe to cap a 76-yard drive on the opening series. The eight-play sequence took just over three-and-a-half minutes.
With 4:36 left in the first, Missouri State freshman Howard Scarborough stepped up with his first career interception at the ISU 33. From there, Chris Douglas picked up 30 ground yards on four carries before Kirby punched it into the end zone from one yard out for the tying score. It was Missouri State's seventh pick of the year.
In the second quarter, what looked like a 53-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Gates was called back on a Sycamores' hold and resulted two plays later in a punt. That punt was blocked by Antoine Wilkinson, but because it was recovered behind the line, ISU tight end advanced it to the Missouri State four-yard line. The unusual play led to a four-yard touchdown run by Gates on the very next play to make it 14-7 with 9:06 left in the first half.
Just three plays later, Missouri State retaliated with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Kirby to Saffold to tie the game, 14-14, with 7:26 left in the second.
With three minutes to go in the half, the Sycamores converted a fourth-and-six at the MSU 24 and then used the steady legs of Gates to create a first-and-goal at the one. The Bears stopped the first play from there, but Gates soon punched it in with 1:08 left in the opening half to put ISU back on top 21-14.
Saffold returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards to the ISU 28, giving the Bears a chance to go into the locker room with some momentum. On third down, Kirby rushed 16 yards to the five, leaving 21 seconds to work with. Douglas then carried to the two before MSU called its second timeout of the quarter with 15 ticks left. On second down, Kirby was flushed out of bounds for no gain, and then a fade to Trevor Wooden into the corner went incomplete thanks to pass interference call on the Sycamores, setting up first and goal from the one and four seconds to play in the half. Douglas slipped on the ensuing play for a one-yard loss to the two, but the Bears beat the clock to call their final timeout and one more chance. Douglas took advantage, taking the pitch around the right end for the tying score as time expired.
Gates finished with a game-high 119 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Fouch was 23-for-43 for 311 yards, marking his third straight 200-yard passing game. Hilton caught eight passes for 146 yards and two scores for the Sycamores.
Kirby finished 8-for-20 for 193 yards. Four of his completions were to Saffold who finished with a career-high 141 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears return to Plaster Field for a 1 p.m. Homecoming kickoff against Western Illinois next Saturday.