YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Missouri State football team responded to the challenge at halftime by outscoring Youngstown State (6-5, 4-4 MVFC), 28-7, in the second half to stun the Penguins on the road in its final game of the season, 38-34. For the fourth-consecutive year, the Bears defeated YSU, one week after the Penguins had upset No. 1-ranked North Dakota State. With the win, Missouri State ends the season at 2-9 overall and 2-6 in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
The game-winning drive began with a 33-yard punt return by Sybhrian Berry, which was the longest runback of the year. MSU quarterback Trevor wood completed two straight passes to Jermaine Saffold before a 5-yard run on 4th and 1. Saffold’s 69 yards receiving on Saturday broke a single-season record with 913 receiving yards.
Within striking distance, Wooden found freshman Robert Fields who had fought off two defenders for a 30-yard completion. Spotting it at the 2-yard line, the Bears spiked the ball with less than 20 seconds remaining. In the shotgun, Wooden threw a fade to Cadarrius Dotson for the touchdown strike as the Bears took their first lead of the game at 34-31 with 10 seconds left on the clock.
“Our guys hung in there and I couldn’t be prouder,” said head coach Terry Allen in his post-game interview. “We handled the time appropriately there at the end, took it down and made the plays that we needed to. The irony of it all was that our special teams won the game for us.”
Deferring to the second half, the Bears received the ball in the third quarter and took off from there. Wooden used his feet to put up 14 points in MSU’s first two drives of the second half. His first TD run came on a 45-yard scamper on 4th and 1. The second strike was set up with a 28-yard punt return from Berry to the MSU 43-yard line. In another 4th-down situation, Wooden completed a 16-yard toss to Dotson and finished off the drive with a 3-yard TD run.
Youngstown State answered with a 73-yard drive and 5-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Hess. With the score, the Penguin quarterback broke the YSU single-game and season passing TD record. Hess threw for 298 yards on 21-for-31 passing with five touchdowns.
For Missouri State’s third score of the half, Chris Douglas closed out a 9-play, 60-yard touchdown drive with his 18th rushing TD of his career.
Wooden provided plays both on his feet and in the air throughout the thriller, completing 17-of-29 passes for 2 TDs and 188 yards. He also averaged 6.7 yards per carry for 121 yards and 2 TDs on 18 attempts.
Defensively, Andrew Beisel led the way with 12 tackles and tied with Mike Crutcher for season-lead in tackles with 84 stops.
A pair of key first-half turnovers put Missouri State into a 27-10 hole during the regular-season finale for both MVFC teams.
The Penguins 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.
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 its 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.
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.
Story courtesy of Missouri State Athletics