Bears Set to Host Leathernecks in 2012 Homecoming Game
Oct. 22, 2012
Missouri State Bears (2-6, 2-3 MVFC) vs. Western Illinois Leathernecks (3-4, 1-3 MVFC)
FIRST AND TEN
LAST TIME AROUND
The final nail in the coffin came with 2:15 to play when senior Jimmie Strong halted a threatening WIU drive with a 91-yard interception return for a touchdown, the longest in Bears' history. The pick six came on the heels of a 54-yard pass completion to Charles Chestnut that set the home club up at the MSU 9-yard line for the potential game-tying score.
Trevor Wooden completed 8-of-16 passes for 190 yards for the Bears who won on the road for the first time in 13 tries and also posted a game-high 82 rushing yards. Jermaine Saffold caught four passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, coming just two yards shy of becoming MSU's all-time receiving yards leader.
The Leathernecks got 269 passing yards by Josh Hudson who was 20-for-34 with a pair of interceptions. Terriun Crump had seven receptions for 67 yards to lead WIU, while Kevin Palermo posted a game-high 14 tackles.
With 7:56 to go in the third, the Bears extended their 14-10 halftime lead on a 19-yard field goal by Austin Witmer to overcome a pair of first-half misses by the sophomore. The score was set up by a 57-yard pass from Wooden to Saffold to the WIU two-yard line just three players earlier. The Bears could not punch it into the end zone, but settled for the chip-shot FG to go up by seven.
The lead didn't last long as WIU got 33 yards on the ensuing kickoff to its own 38. Six plays later, Hudson found Larry Patterson wide open on the far sideline for Patterson's second catch of the season. He bolted to the end zone for his second score of the night to tie the game 17-17 after the Pat Smith PAT with 5:21 on the clock.
Feeling the opportunity for their first victory of the year, the Bears used the momentum of a 50-yard completion from Wooden to Saffold to set up the go-ahead score on the ensuing drive. The key play was a third-and-two at the WIU 27 when Stephen Johnston took the handoff and completed a short pass to quarterback to Wooden who was tackled shy of the first down. However, Johnston was hit late, forcing a roughing the passer flag from the officials and a Bears' first down. WIU's bench protested the call and ultimately drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag to move the ball to the WIU 7. The Bears' third-and-goal play from the 10 was a pass intended for Ian Starnes in the end zone, but WIU was whistled for pass interference to set up another automatic first down at the two, and Johnston punched it in to put the Bears up 24-17 with 55 seconds left in the third.
The score held until late in the fourth quarter with five combined punts and two WIU turnovers - an interception by Mike Crutcher and fumble recovery by Andrew Beisel - but neither team could threaten. With 2:50 to go, Hudson found Chestnut for 54 yards to the MSU 20. On the next play, Hudson was picked off by Strong who returned it 91 yards for the exclamation mark score to put MSU up 31-17.
Ashton Glaser came off the bench to engineer the Bears' 88-yard touchdown drive late in Saturday's fourth-quarter comeback. The junior transfer was 5-for-5 passing and scored the go-ahead touchdown on the 15th play of the drive. The series consumed more than six-and-a-half minutes and put the Bears up 19-14 with 2:54 to go, cementing the club's second straight come-from-behind victory. Glaser had completions of 15 and 18 yards on the game-winning drive and improvised a two-yard TD carry on third-and-goal to seal the win.
RANK AND FILE
BUFORD PICKS UP MVFC LAURELS
Buford, who was named MVFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, is on pace to challenge for Missouri State's single-season receptions record of 62 set by Michael Sparks in 2005. He needs five more receptions to catch Chance Thurman for eighth on the list.
Since 2004, only Buford and Jermaine Saffold (2010) have posted multiple 100-yard receiving games in their junior season. Buford posted seven receptions for 114 yards in the 2012 season opener at Kansas State in just his fourth career start with the Bears. It was also the most receiving yards by a Bear against an FBS opponent since 1997.
Buford, who enters Saturday's game second in the MVFC and tied for 34th nationally in receptions (5.75 rpg), topped the century mark in receiving yards for the second time Sept. 15 against Murray State with a career-best nine receptions for a game-high 112 yards. His 69-yard reception from Ashton Glaser in the first quarter represented the Bears' longest play from scrimmage this season.
WITMER KICKING IT
Witmer, who leads the Bears in scoring (44), picked up his second-straight MSU's special teams player of the week honor. His 11 field goals is the most by a MSU kicker since 2004 and matches the ninth-best single-season total in school history. Witmer needs one more kick to move into a tie with Richard Grote (1990 and 1992) and Brian Long (2001) for sixth on the list
Saturday's effort was the second breakthrough performance in a row for Witmer, who put through the game-winning, 33-yard field goal as time expired to give MSU a 27-24 win over South Dakota on Oct. 13. Witmer also garnered some national attention with his selection as Beyond Sports Network's Special Teams Player of the Week for his showing vs. South Dakota.