Despite outgaining Murray State in total offense, the Missouri State Bears came up short on the scoreboard against the visiting Racers in a back-and-forth 28-23 contest to open their 2012 home slate Saturday evening at Plaster Field. Murray State quarterback Casey Brockman helped stake the Racers (1-2) to a 14-point lead in the first half, then put them on top for good early in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jaamal Berry that ultimately sealed the Bears’ third loss in as many games.
Murray State, which trailed the Bears on two different occasions in the second half, delivered its first win of 2012 in dramatic fashion. The two clubs traded leads throughout a competitive third quarter before Brockman’s second touchdown pass of the night with 14:20 left in the game settled the score for good.
Brockman, who broke a Missouri State opponent record for passing yards (520) in the two clubs’ last meeting, established Bear opponent records for pass completions (41) and attempts (59) Saturday. The senior found 11 different receivers in racking up 313 passing yards in the victory.
Junior receiver Walter Powell enjoyed a big night as Brockman’s No. 1 target, tallying 12 catches for 90 yards.
After the Bears and Racers combined for an NCAA FCS record 1,423 total yards in their last meeting two years ago, the two defenses took center stage early in Saturday’s game. Following a scoreless first period, the Racers scored a pair of touchdowns in a span of just over seven minutes in the second to build a 14-0 lead. The Bears countered 14 with a late touchdown of their own to head to intermission facing just a seven-point deficit.
The Bears mounted the only serious scoring threat in the game’s first 15 minutes, as quarterback Ashton Glaser hooked up with Dorian Buford on a 69-yard completion from deep in MSU territory to give the Bears a first down at the Murray State 28-yard line. However, the Racers’ Jarius Williams stepped in front of Glaser’s second-down pass for an interception and returned the ball 33 yards to the Missouri State 45 with just three seconds left in the period. Murray State moved the ball to the Bears’ 36, before a personal foul on the offense and a Ryan Callender sack on third down stalled the Racers’ best scoring opportunity early in the second.
The visitors seized control of the contest over a seven-minute stretch, using a 12-play, 72-yard drive capped by a three-yard Duane Brady run to put the game’s first points on the board. Murray State, which covered the final 25 yards of its first scoring drive on the ground, took to the air for its second touchdown—a 16-yard strike from Brockman to Nevar Griffin to push its lead to 14-0 with just over three minutes left in the half. That score followed a momentum-swinging stop by the Murray defense on a fourth-down fake punt attempt that set up the Racers on the Bears’ 29-yard line.
Missouri State finally got into the scoring act on its final possession of the half, moving the ball 75 yards in just 1:10 to cut its deficit to 14-7. Glaser completed 3-of-4 passes for 29 yards on the drive, while Scott ran for 17 yards, including the final two for the touchdown with 2:04 left on the clock.
The Racers used 52 offensive plays to pile up 203 yards of total offense, while the Bears amassed 184 yards on 40 plays in the half.
The two offenses heated things up in the third quarter, combining for 23 points and 321 yards of total offense. The Bears continued their comeback by driving the ball 71 yards to pay dirt on their first possession of the second half. Glaser, who completed all seven of his pass attempts for 59 yards on the drive, found a wide-open Julian Burton over the middle for a 32-yard scoring strike to pull the Bears even at 14-14 at the 11:43 mark in the third period.
Murray State wasted little time in answering the Bears, moving the ball 63 yards in just 2:29 to reclaim the lead at 21-17 on a one-yard touchdown run by Brockman.
But Glaser scored on a six-yard run to punctuate a 75-yard drive for the Bears, putting the home team back in the lead. The Racers came up with a key block on Austin Witmer’s PAT try, keeping the margin at 23-21 with 1:22 left in the third.
Not to be outdone by Missouri State, the Racers recorded a 75-yard drive of their own to vault back on top just 40 seconds into the fourth period. Brockman came up with another big completion, this time scrambling out of trouble to find Berry, who beat a pair of Bears to the pylon for the go-ahead touchdown and a five-point Murray State advantage.
The Bears had a chance to return serve late in the game, as Ryan Heaston’s 37-yard run set them up with a first down at the Murray State 16-yard line with just over five minutes to play. But the Racers held their ground, stalling the drive on downs at the 16 following three straight incompletions.
Murray State would drain nearly three-and-a-half minutes off the clock before punting the ball back to the Bears with just 1:09 to play. After picking up a first down on a 13-yard completion to Matt Thayer, Glaser’s second-down pass was picked off by Brandon Wicks at the Racer 37 to seal the outcome.
Buford led the Missouri State offense with his second 100-yard receiving game of the season, finishing with career highs of nine receptions and 112 yards. Glaser finished the night 28-of-50 for 337 yards, establishing new personal highs in each category with his first 300-yard passing game, as the Bears totaled 441 yards of offense for the game versus 399 on 99 offensive plays for the Racers.
Burton recorded a career-best 66 receiving yards and matched another personal best with five catches, and Cadarrius Dotson became the 10th player in school history to top the 100-career reception mark, finishing with four receptions for 41 yards. Additionally, Heaston matched a Missouri State season high with 64 net yards rushing, which also represented a career high for the redshirt freshman.
Up next, the Bears (0-3) open Missouri Valley Football Conference play next Saturday (Sept. 22) with a home game against Southern Illinois.