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BROOKINGS, S.D. (MSU Athletics) - Another gritty effort by the Missouri State defense was overshadowed by five turnovers in the Bears’ 17-7 loss to 25th-ranked South Dakota State on Saturday (Sept. 29). The Bears (0-5, 0-2 MVFC) couldn’t find the endzone in the second half, despite numerous opportunities created by the defense.
For the second week in-a-row, freshman Ryan Heaston showcased his quick and flashy moves at the running back position and generated 185 all-purpose yards, including 150 rushing on 20 carries. He averaged 7.4 yards a carry. Bears’ starting quarterback Ashton Glaser finished 15-for-39 with four interceptions and a fumble.
In the Jackrabbits’ third drive of the game, Zenner exploded for the 88-yard scurry to put SDSU on the scoreboard first, 7-0.
Aside from an 88-yard scamper by Jackrabbits’ running back Zach Zenner in the first quarter, the Bears’ defense was able to limit the nation’s leading rusher to an average of 3.24 yards/carry on his other 29 rushing attempts. In addition to racking up 182 yards rushing on 30 carries, Zenner also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in the fifth game of the season.
It looked as if the MSU offense would respond in its third drive as well. The Bears moved the chains with back-to-back Heaston runs of 24 and 22 yards, respectively. Two plays later though, the momentum shifted in favor of SDSU with Glaser’s first interception of the game.
Starting on its own 37, SDSU advanced the ball all the way down to the MSU 30 before Zenner coughed it up. Forced by safety Mike Crutcher, cornerback Howard Scarborough fell on the ball at the spot of the fumble.
The defensive back duo of Scarborough and Crutcher came up big again as the Jackrabbits looked to recover from their turnover in the previous drive. Scarborough’s tip traveled right into the hands of Crutcher for SDSU’s second turnover of the game. But, the Bears had just one first down and were unable to capitalize.
Before the end of the half, SDSU placekicker tapped in a 23-yard field goal to increase the Jackrabbits’ lead to 10-0. With 2:25 remaining, Missouri State needed to make a move quickly.
Immediately following Heaston runs of 9 and 22, the Bears were knocking on the door. Wide receiver Julian Burton pulled down a Glaser pass and tiptoed down the sideline for a 28-yard reception to the SDSU 3-yard line. Heaston moved it forward ahead another two yards, before Glaser pushed it in for the score. Glaser’s 1-yard run capped a 5-play, 1:07 drive and snapped a six-quarter drought by the MSU offense, which previously reached the end zone in the third quarter against Murray State.
At the half, Heaston led the Bears’ offense with 73 yards on eight carries. SDSU running back Zach Zenner compiled 139 yards on 16 carries.
The third quarter belonged to both defensive units as the two teams combined for three turnovers, three punts and a missed field goal.
Lockdown defense carried into the fourth quarter as cornerback Shybrian Berry killed the Jackrabbits’ drive deep in the Bears’ territory. On the first play of the quarter, Berry went airborne in the endzone and pulled down his second pick of the night. He became just the fourth Bear in the Terry Allen era to record two interceptions in a game.
Eerily similar to the first half, Missouri State turned it right back over with Glaser’s third interception and fourth turnover overall. SDSU benefited from the costly turnover and capped the short four-play drive with an 8-yard TD strike from Sumner to Brandon Hubert.
In a strange sequence of events, with MSU attempting to rally back, Glaser threw a fourth interception deep in the endzone. As the Jackrabbit defender raced the other the other way, Burton caught up with him and took the ball back. The Bears were unable to muster a score out of the drive.
Nate Davis (14) and Caleb Schaffitzel (11) led the defense in tackles, while the Bears forced four turnovers of their own. Davis had an interception and forced a fumble.
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