Bears Roll Past Sycamores For First Valley Victory

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Information provided by Missouri State University) – Behind career days from Peyton Huslig and Jason Randall, Missouri State registered its best offensive performance in 10 years, totaling 624 yards to cruise to its first Missouri Valley Football Conference victory of the season with a 59-20 homecoming decision over Indiana State Saturday at Robert W. Plaster Stadium.

Led by Huslig's MSU single-game rushing record by a quarterback, the Bears (2-6, 1-4 MVFC) logged their best single-game offensive output since their 2007 season opener against Missouri S&T with 624 yards of total offense. Huslig racked up 385 yards of offense by completing 12-of-14 passes for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while eclipsing DeAndre Smith's Bears rushing record by a QB with 174 yards on just seven carries to help the offense finish the day with 339 yards on the ground.

Randall provided a spark out of the MSU backfield with three receptions—all for touchdowns—and a game-high 97 yards. He became the first Bear to reel in three touchdown receptions in a game since 2003 and added 46 rushing yards on 13 carries.

The Bears defense also flexed its collective muscle, holding Indiana State (0-8, 0-5 MVFC) to 138 rushing yards and 347 total yards. Angelo Garbutt turned in a career day with a game-high 15 tackles, and McNeece Egbim added 11 stops, as MSU limited the Sycamores to just 6-of-18 third-down conversions for the day.

Huslig and fellow MSU quarterback J.T. Granato combined forces to complete 17 of their first 18 passes on the day, including three different scoring tosses to Randall, as part of a first-half onslaught that saw the Bears score on six consecutive offensive possessions to build a 32-point halftime lead. After the two offenses traded fumbles near midfield to open the contest, the Bears engineered the first scoring drive of the game behind a 19-yard run by Huslig and a 12-yard completion to freshman Lorenzo Thomas. Zach Drake booted a 28-yard field goal to stake MSU to an early 3-0 lead.

After a second stop by the Bears defense, it would be Granato's turn to helm the MSU offense to pay dirt. The sophomore transfer competed all six of his pass attempts on a 10-play, 87-yard march that culminated in a 26-yard scoring pass to Randall with 3:26 to play in the opening period.

With Huslig back in the MSU lineup, the Bears would use a quick-strike attack to stretch the lead to 17 points on Randall's second touchdown reception in as many offensive snaps. Huslig hit the junior tailback with a swing pass, and Randall took care of the rest, darting through the Sycamore defense for a 49-yard touchdown.

The Sycamores would get on the scoreboard for the first time with a 10-play drive of their own, using a four-yard Isaac Harker pass to Michael Thomas to cut the MSU lead to 17-6 with 13:53 to play in the half.

Huslig sparked yet another Bears scoring rally on the ensuing drive, finding Nick Masoner for 23 yards and Erik Furmanek for 43 more before Myron carried for the final three yards and his first touchdown as a Bear. Huslig stayed hot on MSU's next possession as well, completing a 19-yarder to Furmanek on the heels of his 17-yard toss to Deion Holliman. But it would be Randall breaking free for his third scoring catch of the half that sealed the drive, catching a 22-yard pass from Huslig to stretch the margin to 31-6 with 6:35 left on the clock.

Mason came through with a strong finish to the half, carrying four times for 29 yards as part of the Bears' 59-yard scoring drive that culminated with Huslig's one-yard scoring run with only six seconds to go.

In all, the Bears totaled 379 yards of total offense and 20 first downs in the first half, thanks in large part to 17-of-19 passing for 258 yards by the two signal-callers.

Indiana State struck the first blow after intermission, marching 74 yards on 12 plays to pull to within 38-14 on a LeMonte Booker one-yard run and successful two-point conversion.

MSU had an answer, however, as Huslig gashed the Sycamores on a career-long 63-yard burst to extinguish the visitors' momentum.

The Sycamores would score on a Jacquet McClendon 31-yard reception from Isaac Harker to draw to within 45-20 with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter.

That would be as close as ISU would get, as Randall rushed for a six-yard score—his fourth TD of the game—and Holliman capped the scoring with a 19-yard, fourth-quarter run that helped MSU post its largest margin of victory since a 57-0 win over Southwestern College to open the 2016 season.

The Bears return to the road next Saturday (Nov. 4) for a 1 p.m. MVFC game against Southern Illinois at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

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