Football Bears Fall at South Dakota State, 31-10, Saturday
BROOKINGS, S.D. – In a game of missed opportunities, the Missouri State Bears (4-5, 3-3) were shut out in the second half to fall 31-10 to South Dakota State here Saturday in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.
The Bears seemed poised for a comeback after trailing 16-10 at the half, using the ground game to set up a pair of long drives early in the third.
Missouri State's opening drive of the second half gained 59 yards but stalled at the SDSU 21 on a failed fourth-down conversion. The Jackrabbits (4-5, 4-3) then extended their lead to 14 points12 plays later. Thomas O'Brien made it 24-10 with 5:19 to go in the third when he connected with Trevor Tiefenthaler from four yards out to cap the 79-yard drive.
MSU failed to convert another fourth-down play on its only other possession of the third period after driving all the way to the SDSU 36. In the fourth, the Bears turned it over on downs at their own 36 and could not compile a substantial drive down the stretch to fall short.
South Dakota State added an interception return for a score with 2:04 to go by Cole Brodie to put the game on ice.
The Bears were outgained 347-318 but owned a 151-143 edge on the ground. Stephen Johnston carried 13 times for 65 yards to lead the way, while Chris Douglas added 54 yards on eight carries.
SDSU was led Kyle Minett who posted his eighth straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 111 yards on 29 carries, while Thomas O'Brien added 204 yards through the air on 20-of-30 passing.
Cody Kirby, who became the first MSU passer to compile three 2,000-yard passing seasons, finished 15-for-37 for 167 yards.
In the first quarter, the Bears held the Jackrabitts to a pair of three-and-out drives to start the game while converting an early scoring drive of their own to take the lead. A nine-play, 32-yard drive set up a career-long 42-yard field goal by freshman Austin Witmer to give Missouri State an early 3-0 advantage with 10:13 on the first-quarter clock.
But SDSU bounced back with a nine-play scoring drive of its own and capped the effort with a three-yard touchdown run by Tyler Duffy. The Jackrabbits missed the extra point to make it a 6-3 game at the 4:06 mark.
After the Jackrabbits established the run late in the opening quarter, Minett made it a 13-3 game with 14:18 to go in the second. The All-American running back helped cap the 65-yard drive with 16 ground yards on the series, including the four-yard touchdown carry.
The Bears came up with a huge turnover later in the second as Nick Canavan came up with a loose ball forced by Terian Washington as SDSU was driving deep in Bears' territory. With 8:49 left in the half, Duffy coughed up the ball at the MSU 13 to kill the eight-play drive.
Ten plays later, Douglas found pay dirt to turn the fumble recovery into points. Douglas capped the 87-yard scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to account for his 14th rushing score over the team's last 11 games. Johnston got the Bears close by carrying four times for 24 yards on the series.
SDSU collected a career-long 47-yard field goal by Peter Reifenrath with 91 seconds left to go in the first half to extend its lead to 16-10, The Bears' efforts to go into the half with some momentum were dashed when Kirby threw his fourth interception of the year deep in SDSU territory.
Missouri State, which fell to 0-5 away from Plaster Field, travels to Northern Iowa next Saturday at 6 p.m.