Bears Set to Host Leathernecks in 2012 Homecoming Game
Eric Pearce
Eric Pearce

Oct. 22, 2012

2012 Missouri State Homecoming
Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (2-6, 2-3 MVFC) vs. Western Illinois Leathernecks (3-4, 1-3 MVFC)
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Kickoff: 1:04 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Plaster Field (16,300)
TV: Mediacom MC-22/MVFC TV (Joe Zydlo, Richard Baldinger)
Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Art Hains, Ned Reynolds)
Live Stats:
Live Video: Bears All-Access

♦ The Bears enter Saturday's matchup with Western Illinois as winners of three of their last five homecoming matchups, including a 31-28 victory over the Leathernecks on Homecoming 2010. The Bears are 23-22 in homecoming games since 1967, including a 2-1 mark in such games against WIU.
♦ Missouri State's two-game win streak is its longest since Oct. 23-30, 2010. The Bears have not won three straight contests since Sept. 2-18, 2004.
♦ The Bears' three-game win streak vs. WIU represents their longest in the 31-year history of the series. Missouri State and WIU enter Saturday's game even in the overall series at 15-15-1. The Bears are just 6-8-1 at Plaster Field vs. the Leathernecks, but have won three of their last four home games in the series.
♦ MSU held Illinois State to just 78 rushing yards on Saturday, the lowest ground production by a Missouri State opponent since North Dakota State carried 27 times for 42 net yards at Plaster Field on Nov. 20, 2010 -- 19 games ago.
♦ The Bears' offense leads the MVFC in total first downs (88) in conference play.
Dorian Buford ranks second in The Valley and 34th nationally in receptions per game (5.75). He needs 16 more grabs over the Bears' final three games to match Michael Sparks's single-season school record (2005) for receptions (62).
Vernon Scott surpassed the 1,000-all-purpose-yard plateau for his MSU career in last Saturday's win at Illinois State, and Cadarrius Dotson enters Saturday's game just nine yards shy of 1,500 all-purpose yards for his career.
♦ The Bears' defense has been the second-toughest MVFC unit to score upon in the red zone in conference play. MSU has prevented the opposition from scoring 37.5 percent (6-of-16) of the time in Valley play.
♦ Through eight games, Caleb Schaffitzel ranks 12th nationally in tackles per game (10.75). The redshirt sophomore rates third among all MVFC defenders in the same category.
♦ The MSU defense recorded not just one, but two safties in last Saturday's win at Illinois State. The Bears had not registered a single safety in exactly 11 years (vs. Indiana State on Oct. 20, 2001)--a span of 120 games.

October 22, 2011 -- Four second-half take-aways propelled Missouri State to a 31-17 win over Western Illinois in Macomb, Ill., and ran MSU's win streak vs. WIU to three games. The MSU victory snapped an eight-game Hanson Field winning streak by the Leathernecks and secured Bears' first win of 2011.

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.

After failing to score in the fourth quarter of their first six games, Missouri State has outscored its last two opponents by a combined 32-3 score in the fourth quarter. In Saturday's come-from-behind win at No. 11 Illinois State, the Bears scored by nearly every means possible in the fourth quarter, collecting a touchdown, extra point, two field goals and a safety in their 15-point scoring barrage in the final period.

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.

The Bears' win at No. 11 Illinois State was the club's first victory over a ranked foe since a 3-0 decision over No. 17 North Dakota State on Oct. 20, 2010. The Bears went 3-2 against ranked foes during the 2010 season, but had dropped nine straight decisions to top 25 opponents prior to Saturday's win in Normal.

Dorian Buford collected four more pass receptions in Saturday's win over Illinois State, giving him 37 grabs over the last six games and 46 for the season, good for ninth on the Bears' single-season list. Buford also secured his third 100-yard receiving effort of the season and pulled in a pivotal 46-yard completion from Kierra Harris in the fourth quarter in the Bears' 24-17 win over the 11th-ranked Redbirds. Buford became just the 10th MSU pass receiver to secure three or more 100-yard games in a season and is just one 100-yard game away from tying the Bears' season record.

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.

Austin Witmer is quietly having a season worthy of postseason honors as he improved to 11-for-14 this season in field goal attempts and 11-for-12 in extra points with a strong outing Saturday at Illinois State. The Nebraska native is averaging 60.9 yards on kickoffs with 18 touchbacks on 30 attempts this season.

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.



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