No. 8 Illinois State runs past Bears
The tone of the game was set early when Missouri State’s offense moved into the red zone the first three times it had the ball without scoring and the Bears were then in too deep a hole from which to recover as the eighth-ranked Illinois State Redbirds ran out to a 38-14 Gateway Football Conference decision over Missouri State Saturday in Normal, Ill. The Redbirds climbed to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Gateway while the Bears dropped to 1-9 and 0-6.
Illinois State scored touchdowns the first three times it had the football and converted points in six of its first seven possessions. And, the Redbirds sustained those drives so well that those seven possessions consumed 63 plays and 27 minutes of clock time. The Redbirds’ two TDs in the third quarter pushed the score to 35-0 before Missouri State reached the end zone twice in the final 15 minutes.
The Bears got a 58-yard pass from QB Tyler Horner to WR Jeremy Nicholson on their first possession and had a first down at the ISU five. A Redbird interception in the end zone blunted that scoring bid. Twice more in the first half the Bears got into the red zone and ran out of downs on the Illinois State two and the ISU 19. Illinois State was moving effectively on the ground and through the air with QB Luke Drone scored on a one-yard run while TB Pierre Rembert tallied on a pair of short runs in the first half.
Rembert scored again in the third period but his three touchdowns and 120 yards on the ground were well below the six TDs and 272 yards rushing he had in 2005 against Missouri State in Springfield. ISU’s fifth TD came when Drone hit WR Dan Passarelli on a 25-yard pass.
Missouri State’s Horner, a freshman, stood his ground in the pocket all day as he hit 23-of-37 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown. He also gained 47 yards on 10 carries. The Bears had four possessions on the day of longer than 10 plays and finally reached paydirt in the final period. TB RaMel McIntosh scored on a one-yard run to cap a 14-play, 69-yard drive on the first play of the quarter, and Horner tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Nicholson with 5:44 left in the game.
The Bears wound up with 366 yards in total offense, continuing an improvement in that area in recent games. But, the defense gave up a season-high 527 yards, with Drone leading the way with a 19-of-26 passing day for 305 aerial yards.
The Bears return home to close their 2006 season and hook up for their Gateway finale next Saturday (Nov. 11) when they play host to Western Illinois in Plaster Field. Kickoff is 1 p.m.