SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – South Dakota State used a balanced offensive attack and a shutdown effort by its defense to make a 14-point first-half lead stand in an eventual 35-14 victory over Missouri State Saturday afternoon at Robert W. Plaster Stadium.
The fourth-ranked Jackrabbits (7-2, 4-1 MVFC) scored the first 21 points of the afternoon and racked up 526 yards of total offense for the game, while the SDSU defense forced three turnovers, held the Bears scoreless for three quarters and permitted just 249 yards in all.
Jeremiah Wilson provided an offensive spark in his first live action of the 2019 season, rushing for 87 yards on 12 carries. The sophomore running back, who was sidelined for the first seven games of the year with a knee injury, put MSU on the board with a 57-yard scoring run early in the fourth period.
Cade Johnson hauled in five catches for 164 yards, including a back-breaking 89-yard scoring catch to help seal the outcome, while Pierre Strong and C.J. Wilson combined for 196 yards on the ground to lead the Jacks’ offense. Three SDSU passers combined for 294 yards and two touchdowns through the air, as the Jacks handed the Bears (1-7, 1-4 MVFC) their fourth home loss in as many games at Plaster Stadium this season.
SDSU seized control with a strong first-half defensive performance, holding the MSU offense to 11 rushing yards and 91 total yards while forcing a pair of turnovers. Led by Seven Wilson’s six tackles and second-quarter interceptions from Josh Manchigiah and Diamond Evans, the Jacks’ defense shut the Bears down on key downs, as MSU went 0-for-6 on third down in the opening stanza.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Jacks overcame a stout effort from the MSU defense to register a pair of scoring drives and take a 14-0 lead into intermission. The duo of quarterback Keaton Heide and receiver Adam Anderson stung the Bears with a pair of critical completions, the first of which covered the final 10 yards of SDSU’s 67-yard scoring drive midway through the first quarter. After Johnson broke off a 19-yard scamper, and C.J. Wilson carried the all 17 yards to the MSU 10, Heide guided a pass through traffic to Anderson in the end zone to hand the Jacks an early 6-0 lead.
Heide and Anderson teamed up again in the second period to help add to the SDSU lead, connecting for a 44-yard gain to the MSU 11. Strong rushed three times for 25 yards on the 72-yard drive, before Mikey Daniels carried it in from a yard out to cap the scoring march with just under five minutes to play in the half.
MSU’s defense came through in the early stages of the contest, coming up with a stop on third-and-short at the MSU 27, with Darius Joseph and Claudio Martin stuffing Daniel for no gain to force a punt. The Bears stopped the Jacks’ offense on third down three more times in the half, and kept SDSU off the scoreboard with a key stand deep in their own territory after Manchigiah’s interception and 16-yard return set his offense up at the MSU 24 late in the second quarter.
The Jacks added to their lead with another strong defensive effort, as well as a 41-yard C.J. Wilson scoring run late in the third period, stretching the margin to 21-0.
But the Bears would answer early in the fourth, using a big play from a new face in the lineup to cut into the SDSU lead. Playing in his first game of the 2019 season, Jeremiah Wilson broke free for a 57-yard touchdown rush—the longest play from scrimmage by any Bear this season—to slice the Jacks’ lead back to 14 with 13:22 to play in the contest.
Jaylen Henderson then stripped an SDSU ballcarrier near midfield, and Angelo Garbutt fell on the loose ball at the SDSU 45 to keep MSU’s late-game momentum going.
The SDSU promptly extinguished the threat, however. Xavier Ward sacked Peyton Huslig on second down, and an incomplete pass on the ensuing play halted the drive and gave the ball back to the Jacks at their own 11. It would take just one play for the visitors to deliver the deciding blow, as Johnson took a forward pitch from Strong and raced 89 yards to pay dirt and a 28-7 SDSU lead at the 11:15 mark.
Strong would add one final SDSU score with just over six minutes to play, carrying the ball in from one yard out after a Bears fumble inside the five-yard line gave the Jacks another scoring opportunity.
Anderson added 62 receiving yards on his three catches, and Heide completed 11-of-19 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown for SDSU. Seven Wilson finished with a game-high 12 tackles, and Quinton Hicks recorded 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry to fuel the Jacks’ defensive effort.
Murray led the Bears with four receptions for 52 yards, as Huslig finished the day 15-of-32 for 159 yards and one touchdown.
The Bears will begin a two-game road swing next Saturday (Nov. 9) with a trip to Carbondale, Ill., to face the Southern Illinois Salukis. Kickoff at Saluki Stadium is slated for 2 p.m. (CDT).