Football Bears fall to Indiana State
A week after having a 4-0 turnover advantage in a home loss, the Missouri State Bears committed four turnovers of their own and the result was a 28-22 Gateway Football Conference setback to the Indiana State Sycamores Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., in a contest in which ISU snapped a 24-game losing streak.
The Bears lost their sixth in a row and fell to 1-7 for the season and 0-4 in the league in a contest in which they had chances throughout to put the issue into the win column. And, after an uphill battle all day, Missouri State still had an opportunity for the win when they recovered a fumble on the ISU 19 with 3:40 to play. There was plenty of time and the Bears had been moving the ball with reasonable effectiveness much of the contest. But, on the second play after the recovery, redshirt freshman QB Tyler Horner, making his first college start, scrambled out of a sack but then threw a pass to ISU DE D. J. McCarthy who returned the ball 37 yards into MSU territory to stall the Bears’ bid.
Even at that, the MSU defense held ISU on four downs and got the ball back on a punt. Starting on his own 14 with 1:46 left, Horner completed four passes and picked up two first downs but finally ran out of downs and time near midfield and ISU had its first win since the fifth game of the 2004 season. ISU this year is 1-7 overall and 1-3 in the league.
The game’s biggest momentum swing came early in the third quarter. The Bears took the second-half kickoff on their own 35 and marched to the ISU one. On a bid to sneak the ball the final yard for the touchdown, Horner lost a fumble and ISU got it. The Bears held for three downs and put the Sycamores into a punting situation at the ISU 12. P Chris Johansen dropped a high snap and then squibbed a short kick off the side of his foot. The ball hit an MSU player and the Sycamores recovered on their own 42. They moved 58 yards on six plays with QB Ben Schmidt scoring and the Bears were down by a dozen, 28-16, after having been within a whisker of a 23-21 lead.
The Bears then kicked a field goal to cut the gap to nine. MSU got it back on a punt and moved into ISU territory before an errant Horner pitch on an option play gave the ball back to ISU. Another punt brought the ball back to the Bears and K Nathan Stokes popped home his career-best third field goal of the game but that was as close as the Bears got.
The Sycamores jumped out to a 14-3 lead by midway in the second period on a scoring pass from Schmidt to WR Sam Logan and another scoring run by Schmidt but the Bears answered in a hurry. A 31-yard run by TB Gerald Davis keyed a 72-yard drive capped when Horner floated a 23-yard scoring pass to WR Chris Geisz. The Bears forced a deep punt which KR Eric Davis returned 55 yards for a TD and a 16-14 MSU lead in the final minute of the quarter. It was the second return TD of the season for Davis, tying a school record held by seven others. ISU responded, moving 50 yards on just six plays with a Schmidt to Carl Berman pass covering the final 32 yards to give ISU a 21-16 halftime lead.
Horner’s starting debut saw him hit 17-of-33 passes for 233 yards, with WR Tamarkus McElvane getting five catches for 89 yards while WR Jeremy Nicholson caught four for 67. The Bears’ frustration included a wide-open dropped pass in the end zone just before Stokes’s third field goal.
The Bears return home next Saturday (Oct. 28) to host Southern Illinois in a Gateway matchup at 1:30 p.m. It will be Homecoming at Missouri State.