– Despite a strong effort from its defense and a valiant fourth-quarter comeback, Missouri State came up on the short end of a 28-14 decision in its non-conference contest against Iowa at Kinnick Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Hawkeye defense limited the Bears to 197 total yards and 12 first downs, while the UI offense rushed for 296 yards to send MSU to its third-consecutive 0-2 start to a season.
Junior running back Mark Weisman, who rushed for a game-high 184 yards, keyed a third-quarter UI outburst with a pair of touchdown runs that turned a seven-point game into a 21-0 Hawkeye advantage.
Sparked by Kierra Harris’ first touchdown pass of the season, the Bears scored twice in a span of just 10 seconds to claw their way back to within seven early in the fourth quarter. Harris hooked up with Julian Burton on a 27-yard scoring strike 35 seconds into the final period to put MSU on the board and snap a 54-minute scoring drought for the Bears’ offense. On Iowa’s next play from scrimmage, freshman linebacker Rique Bently stepped in front of a Jake Rudoch pass and returned the interception 28 yards for a touchdown to make it a 21-14 contest with 14:15 left on the clock.
Iowa would respond with a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive of its own, capped by Rudoch’s two-yard run at the 9:57 mark, to push the lead back to 14 points.
Aided by a 28-yard kickoff return by freshman LeMarcus Stewart and a personal foul penalty, the Bears moved the ball to the Iowa 14 on their next possession. But on second down, UI’s Tanner Miller picked off Harris’s pass attempt in the endzone, all but ending MSU’s bid for a comeback victory in its first-ever game against a Big Ten foe.
The late turnover forced by UI punctuated a big day by the Hawkeye defense, which held the Bears scoreless while allowing just 117 yards of total offense through three quarters.
MSU’s defense did its best to match the Hawkeyes effort, holding UI to 204 first-half yards despite being on the field for nearly two-thirds of the stanza. In all, the Bears limited UI to 489 total yards on the day.
After the Bears’ defense forced a three-and-out on Iowa’s first possession of the game, the Hawkeyes dictated play from there, controlling the ball for over 10 minutes in the first quarter while holding MSU to just 19 yards of total offense. Rudoch directed the home team on a 69-yard drive that was highlighted by Weisman’s 21-yard run. Rudoch connected with CJ Fiedorowicz on a key third-down completion deep in Bears’ territory to keep the drive alive, then scampered in from six yards out to give the Hawkeyes a 7-0 advantage midway through the first quarter.
Iowa appeared to be poised to add to its lead early in the second period, as the combination of Rudoch and Weisman moved the Hawkeyes all the way to the MSU eight yard-line. But Caleb Schaffitzel leveled Rudoch at the 15 for a seven-yard loss, and an incompletion on third-and-goal stalled the 12-play drive that culminated with a Mike Meyer miss on a 33-yard field goal attempt.
The Hawkeye defense kept the Bears in check throughout the first 30 minutes of the contest, limiting the Missouri State run game to just 22 yards on 14 carries in the opening half. MSU totaled just 67 yards and five first downs before intermission, forcing its defense to hold its ground for nearly 19 minutes before heading to the locker room trailing by just seven points.
The opening minutes of the second half followed a familiar course, with the Hawkeyes marching the ball deep into MSU territory before the Bears’ defense would come up with a pivotal stop. Weisman ripped off a 37-yard run to set up UI at the Bears’ 11, then carried for three more to the two before Anthony Grady and Dylan Cole teamed up to stop his fourth-and-one rush just short of the first-down marker.
Iowa’s defense once again came up big, however, this time stopping the Bears on three plays to set up the Hawkeye offense with a short field. After a Kevonte Martin-Manley 10-yard punt return handed Iowa the ball at the MSU 32, a pair of Damon Bullock carries moved the chains, and an eight-yard completion to Don Shumpert gave UI a first-and-goal at the 10. From there, Weisman punched it home to open up a double-digit lead for the Hawkeyes, topping the century mark in rushing yardage for the second straight week in the process.
Weisman would add another score on Iowa’s next possession, stretching the UI lead to 21-0 with a three-yard run with 2:12 to play in the third. The junior back completed his season-best rushing day on a career-high 30 carries, while Rudoch completed 19-of-28 passes for 193 yards through the air for the Hawkeyes.
Harris finished the afternoon 14-of-30 for 127 passing yards, hitting Burton six times for a game-high 67 yards. Mike Crutcher paced the MSU defense with 11 stops, while Schaffitzel added 10 tackles to go along with his early sack.
Up next, the Bears will travel to Murray, Ky., next Saturday (Sept. 14) for a 6 p.m. non-conference matchup against Murray State.
Story courtesy of MissouriStateBears.com