Bears Trail Youngstown State, 27-10, at the Half
Nov. 19, 2011
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A pair of key first-half turnovers have put Missouri State into a 27-10 hole here, the regular-season finale for both Missouri Valley Football Conference teams.
The Penguins, which upset the nation's top team, North Dakota State last week, drove the length of the field on the game's opening series to set a furious pace. YSU covered 80 yards in 11 plays and chewed up six-and-a-half minutes before Kurt Hess connected with tight end Will Shaw for a 10-yard touchdown strike.
Later in the opening quarter, the Bears rallied with a scoring drive of their own to tie the game, 7-7. Trevor Wooden threw a strike to Cadarrius Dotson in the end zone on a key third-down play in the red zone to even the score. The 16-yard strike capped an eight-play, 61-yard scoring drive.
Before the end of the quarter, YSU regained the advantage with a quick, 80-yard scoring effort. Hess and Shaw hooked up for a 52-yard TD strike 69 seconds later to make it 14-7 Penguins at the end of the first quarter.
Caleb Schaffitzel returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the YSU 10-yard line to set up a 30-yard field goal by Austin Witmer four plays later. Witmer's fifth field goal of the season made it a 14-10 game with 14:10 to go in the opening half.
Perhaps the key moment of the first half came on MSU's next series. After the Bears forced a Penguins' punt and took over at their own 35, Terry Allen's troops drove all the way to the Youngstown 15 with little resistance. Stephen Johnston provided much of the spark on the series, but when he gave way to Vernon Scott in the red zone, Scott exploded on his first carry to the YSU 5, only to fumble at the end of an impressive run. Youngstown State recovered the fumble and returned it to their own 27 to end the MSU threat.
The Bears would not move the ball any closer the rest of the half, but surrendered two more scores in the final minutes. At the 3:03 mark, Hess threw an 18-yard TD strike to Christian Bryant to extend the home team's lead to 20-10 after the PAT missed. Trying to rally the MSU troops in the final minute of the half, Wooden threw an interception into the hands of Jeremy Edwards. Three plays later, Hess threw his fourth TD pass of the opening half, a 12-yarder to Jelani Berassa with 12 seconds to go that put YSU ahead 27-10 at the break.
Wooden ended the first half 5-for-12 for 44 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He shared team-best rushing honors with Johnston with 27 yards as the Bears were outgained by a 269-131 margin the first half.
Hess was 14-for-18 for 206 yards for the Penguins, while Jamaine Cook, the No. 5 rusher in the FCS ranks, carried 13 times for 60 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Also noteworthy in the early going was MSU punter Jordan Chiles who moved into first place on the Bears' career list for punting yards on his first punt of the afternoon. He replaces Warren Baker (1968-71) as MSU's career leader in that category.