Big Second Quarter Gives Bears 28-3 Halftime Lead Over Western Illinois
Vernon Scott
Vernon Scott

Oct. 27, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Paced by sophomore quarterback Kierra Harris's three touchdown passes, the Missouri State Bears took a commanding 28-3 Homecoming lead over Western Illinois into the halftime locker room Saturday at Plaster Field. The Bears reeled off 21 unanswered points in the second quarter thanks in large part to the play of Harris and a stingy defense that limited the Leathernecks to 124 yards of total offense in the half.

Harris, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 130 yards in the half, guided the Bears on three second-quarter touchdown drives after the MSU defense twice set up the offense with prime field position.

The Bears fired the first salvo of the day late in the opening quarter, as Harris's 24-yard scamper ignited an 80-yard drive that ultimately put MSU on top, 7-0. Harris hooked up with Dorian Buford on a 38-yard scoring strike to give the Bears the lead with just under two minutes left in the opening period.

Western Illinois answered the Bears' first score with a 15-play march deep into Missouri State territory, relying heavily on a ground game that accounted for 43 of the Leathernecks' 55 yards on the drive. WIU ran the ball on nine straight plays and had a 2nd and goal from the 5-yard line before a false start penalty and an incomplete pass halted the drive. The visitors instead settled for a 27-yard Pat Smith field goal to pull to within 7-3 with 9:24 to go in the half.

But Missouri State responded with a quick-strike drive that covered 71 yards in just 1:38, with Harris connecting with Cadarrius Dotson on a three-yard scoring pass with 7:40 to play in the half. Vernon Scott's 21-yard run kicked off the drive, and Harris found Mikael Cooper-Falls for a 17-yard completion to set up a 1st-and-10 at the WIU 17-yard line after a personal foul penalty against the Leathernecks tacked on an additional 15 yards. A Matt Thayer reception picked up 14 more yards to the 3-yard line, and Harris found Dotson on the fifth play of the drive for a 14-3 MSU advantage.



After the two clubs traded a pair of interceptions over a three-minute span, the Bears' defense stuffed the Leathernecks on a three-and-out deep in their own territory, and Sybhrian Berry returned a short punt 11 yards to the WIU 25-yard line to put MSU in scoring position once again. Five plays later, Harris found Tre Kelley in the back corner of the end zone for a 4-yard scoring pass, increasing MSU's lead to 21-3 with 1:26 to go.

The Bears' defense came up big once again before the break, as Howard Scarborough stepped in front of a Hayden Northern pass at the WIU 24 to give MSU the ball one more time. A critical facemask penalty and a pair of Cooper-Falls rushes took the ball to the 1-yard line, and Harris carried it over the goal line with just eight seconds left on the clock.

Kelley's four receptions, highlighted by his first career touchdown as a Bear, led the MSU receiving corps, while Harris racked up a team-high 37 rushing yards on eight carries.

Nikko Watson led the Leatherneck offense with 56 yards on 12 carries, and Fredson Salomon caught three passes for 28 yards in the half.

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