Bears Close Out Perfect Home Season with 3-0 Win Over No. 17 NDSU
SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State closed out its first perfect home campaign since 1992 with a 3-0 win here Saturday over No. 17 North Dakota State in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.
The Bears (5-6, 4-4) outgained the Bison (7-4, 4-4) 334-120 on senior day at Plaster Field and finished the season with a 5-0 record at home. The win extended MSU's overall home win streak to six games.
Junior Chris Douglas led all players with 122 rushing yards on 19 carries to pace the Bears. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season early in the fourth quarter to become the 10th MSU player and first since 2004 to do so.
The shutout victory was Missouri State's first since a 45-0 victory over Union on Sept. 18, 2004 and first by the Bears under Terry Allen.
The low-scoring affair was not typical for either team, especially the Bears who entered the game 16th in the nation at 33.1 points per game.
Early on, it looked as if Allen's squad would be able to put its normal amount of points on the board. The Bears took the game's opening drive 66 yards to the NDSU 14 before a missed a 31-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right to kill the 13-play drive that consumed nearly five-and-a-half minutes.
Missouri State allowed just two first downs in a scoreless first half but missed three field goal attempts.
MSU opened the second half with a sky kick that Brian Berry recovered for MSU at the North Dakota State 38. Six plays later, Austin Witmer redeemed himself after three missed field goals in the first half with a successful 22-yard kick.
That score held up despite a threatening drive by the Bison late in the third quarter. The windy conditions pushed a 38-yard Ryan Jastram kick wide right with 23 seconds left in the third quarter to kill a 14-play, potential game-tying drive. It was the longest drive of the afternoon for NDSU which did not cross the Missouri State 45 at any other point in the contest.
Earlier in the season, Jastram made two field goals in a 6-3 win at Kansas in the MVFC's only win over an FBS foe this year.
After the Witmer field goal, the Bears punted on five straight possessions, including a 35-yarder by Jordan Chiles to pin the Bison in at their own 33 with 1:06 left in the game. On second-and-six, Dante Perez rolled to his right and threw the game's final pass into the hands of Missouri State's Terian Washington who snagged his first career interception and returned it to the 23. The Bears took a knee to end the game and cap a 4-4 season in the MVFC to tie for third place.
NDSU was held to its lowest offensive total of the season, while star running back D.J. McNorton had a string of four straight 100-yard rushing games broken. He was held to 38 yards on 16 carries, while a combination of three Bison quarterbacks finished 12-for-24 for 78 yards, including eight completions to Warren Holloway.
The Bears collected 238 ground yards on 51 carries with 14 of their 19 first downs by rush. Senior quarterback Cody Kirby was 14-for-23 through the air for 96 yards in his final game. He finished first in conference history in pass attempts (1,172), second in completions (690), third in yards (8,183), and third in total offense (9,019).
Trevor Wooden led six MSU receivers with a team-high five catches for 43 yards. The Bears were led on defense by Antoine Wilkinson with 15 tackles, pushing him to the 100-tackle milestone for the second straight season.